About three months ago, I got food poisoning the day after my birthday. I woke up writhing in pain and spent the next three days experiencing all the wonderful things that come with stomach illness, eventually winding up in the hospital because I was feeling shooting pains in my chest. Unfortunately, that was my second week of my new job so I was nervous about telling my editor that I couldn’t perfume my duties. And very fortunately, she essentially e-yelled, “What are you waiting for? Go, go, go and get better!” But this is not the case with many employees across the nation — nearly a third of them, in fact, cannot take off work.
Approximately 41.7 million workers in America have no paid sick days, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While about 80 percent of full-time employees have them, only 25 percent of part-time workers do. While this may mislead some to imagine that people who aren’t working all that often simply are not receiving time off, there are millions of people who work multiple part-time positions and seldom receive any of the benefits that fulltime ones do, no matter how many hours a week they rack up between all of the employers. Workers who are afraid of losing their jobs wind up attending work regardless which can be detrimental to both themselves and the workplace.
Although this lack of paid sick leave is often in place to discourage workers from taking unnecessary time off, it can very negatively impact the productivity of all employees. Last year, a study published in American Journal of Public Health estimated that “an additional 5 million people became infected with flu symptoms in 2009 alone due to workplace policies, such as lack of paid sick leave.”
Until those employers with policies like this in place change their tune, flu season — including this one, which is supposed to be especially vicious — will cost them a considerable amount of money in hospitalizations, loss of productivity and doctor visits for employees. Hopefully, at least the bottom line will encourage them to alter their rules.