Flu epidemic exposes gaps in sick-leave policies

  • Article by: REKHA BASU , Des Moines Register
  • Updated: January 15, 2013 - 8:42 PM

Many workers are showing up for work sick when they should stay home. That's because nearly one-third of U.S. workers do not have sick leave.

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northhillJan. 16, 13 6:31 AM

Most Americans do not have paid sick leave.Other Americans have very limited sick leave.The employer I worked for for many years had no paid sick leave.If you were ill you did not get paid.If you exclude those who work for the Federal,State,County,municipal or school districts that rate is much much higher.I worked in a union shop with otherwise excellent benefits.Many private sector employees go to work when they are sick because of financial reasons.They simply cannot afford to miss work.How many creditors out there will offer any sympathy to a debtor who has the flu and can't pay their bills on time because they could'nt work?They also know too that too much illness will cost you a job and employee attendence is a key reason for a person geeting or no getting a job.Rekha Basu,I'm sure you have sick leave through your employer,but most workers in the private sector only wished they did!

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ginny6Jan. 16, 13 8:00 AM

Workers without paid sick leave is definitely a problem.

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beebee82Jan. 16, 13 9:28 AM

I do not go out to eat in the winter. Not because I'm too fragile to withstand the frigid temperatures, but because I once worked in the food service industry. Not one of the cooks, wait staff or bartenders were given sick time during my time slinging drinks and waiting tables and nothing has since changed. With low wages to begin with, most of these employees simply can't afford to call in sick so they work. If the food service industry likes an even slower winter season, they should keep denying their employees sick time. If they prefer more customers, they should probably offer at least 20-30 hours of PTO to their workers.

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hermajestyJan. 16, 1310:48 AM

If employers aren't willing to grant sick leave for humane reasons, they should consider the following: 1) Sick people can't work as efficiently as healthy people, 2) Sick people spread their illnesses to their co-workers and customers, 3) Working while sick makes the illness last longer, meaning that the employee remains below peak efficiency for a longer time.

Even as a college professor, I gave my students "sick leave," because college campuses regularly have epidemics of flu and colds. That is, for every credit hour of the course, they got a day of sick leave, so that students in a three-credit course got three days and students in a five-credit course got five days. Did some of them abuse the privilege? No doubt, but at least they didn't come to class and cough all over me and everyone else.

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odinmanJan. 16, 13 1:03 PM

And then there are those who have paid sick leave but show up at work anyway sicker than a dog....supposedly to impress management. Nice.

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elind56Jan. 16, 13 1:45 PM

There oughtta be a law!

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mrblueskyJan. 17, 13 6:42 AM

Odinman- They are the worst. I worked with a guy that came in sicker than a dog, sneezing, hacking. I told him to stay at home, he said he has never used a sick day and never will. I told him it was disrespectful to the other workers. He stayed. Within a week 15 of the 25 employees were home sick. Nice.

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fernnyJan. 17, 13 5:53 PM

I was a salaried manager for a very popular noodle restaurant, based in Boulder, CO and located all around the Cities. I was fortunate enough to be granted 5 days of sick leave a year, but no hourly employee was granted that. To cover their legal bases, they of course told us to stay away if we were vomiting or had diarrhea, but without a doubt, there was an underlying tone of "do not call in sick." Restaurants are staffed so thinly, and many of the employees work multiple jobs (due to the terrible wages), so if someone calls in, you're more than likely going to be short. There's not a chance to call another employee in to cover the sick one. I absolutely abhor how restaurants treat their workers; they pay crap and give worse benefits. Even with laws, I guarantee they wouldn't follow them. N&C certainly doesn't follow labor laws now! Why would they follow health laws?

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