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CAREER CORNER

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There’s a need for paid sick leave [By Michael Kinsman] There are probably two good ways of looking at the concept of mandatory sick days for U.S. businesses.

The first is to look at this as a tremendous

The reason for this is because workers

The reluctance of some employers to grant

burden by American businesses, which

need it. Currently, sick time is granted by

paid time off for sick employees means that

will have to absorb the economic impact of

employers who think it’s a good idea. Only

those employers could face even higher

additional time off by their employees.

about half the nation’s private industry

incidents of unscheduled absences because

workers have sick leave with pay.

common diseases spread so easily.

Meanwhile, about 59 million others need it.

Will mandatory sick time cost business

The second is to look at this as a justifiable and necessary accommodation for American

more? Yes, but it is an unavoidable cost.

workers. Workers get sick unexpectedly and they Both views probably have merit. If you haven’t heard of mandatory sick days

suffer injuries at home in the off hours.

Among business organizations there is a

There is no way of guaranteeing that you can

tendency to immediately oppose minimum

avoid illness or injury in our society.

wage increases and mandatory health care for workers. Mandatory sick leave will be

laws yet, you will in the near future. The city of San Francisco has an ordinance going into

A lot of other countries have already

opposed, too, when legislation is starting to

effect that will require large employers to

recognized that. In 2004, a Harvard University

be drawn up.

provide up to nine days of paid sick leave.

study reported that 139 countries provide

Employers with less than 10 employees will

paid leave for short-term or long-term

But the only reason minimum wage laws

have to offer five paid sick days.

illnesses.

exist and the only reason mandatory health

Other cities are expected to consider similar

There is a lot of talk today about

laws and U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-

presenteeism, the tendency for workers to

Mass., had put paid sick leave on the agenda

show up for their work assignments when

Mandatory sick leave might take years or

of the Senate Health Education Labor and

they are sick or too stressed to actually do

decades to build to that point, but it definitely

Pensions Committee that he shares.

the job.

will at some point.

That certainly doesn’t guarantee that sick

When sick workers with colds or influenza

time legislation will spread like a wildfire,

show up in the office, they often spread

but at least it’s now entered the national

illnesses to co-workers, exacerbating the

stage.

problem.

care exists is because society deems them

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necessary.

There's a need for paid sick leave  

If you haven't heard of mandatory sick days laws yet, you will in the near future. The city of San Francisco has an ordinance going into eff...