Posted in: Health

Flu Epidemic: One In Three American Workers Has No Paid Sick Leave, Contributes To Spread Of Disease

Workers who get no paid sick leave often go to work even when sick, and spread the disease to others.

While the nation’s “flu epidemic” has spread to over 40 states, thousands of Americans are trudging to work with cold and flu symptoms instead of staying home and keeping the spreadable disease to themselves. Why? Because one in three Americans do not have the luxury of taking a paid sick day.

An estimated 41.7 million workers in America cannot take paid sick days, which means that nearly a third of the nation’s work force has the potential to raise health risks for the entire population.

This season’s “flu epidemic” has spread to 41 states thus far, but worker who have no paid sick leave are forced to head to work despite symptoms, or suffer the consequences. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health estimates 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,” according to CNN.

While most employees with full-time jobs have the benefit of paid sick leave, only a small percent of part-time employees enjoy the same benefit. There are also millions of self-employed workers, for which staying home sick means losing an entire day of business.

CNN reports that though providing paid sick leave may seem expensive for employers, not giving employees paid sick days is also costly. The Centers for Disease Controls estimates that a typical flu season generally costs businesses about $10.4 billion in hospitalization and outpatient costs for adults.

Adult employees aren’t the only ones affected by lack of paid sick leave. Employees with sick children often cannot miss work due to lack of paid leave, and therefore feel forced to send their children to school or daycare, even then they show cold and flu symptoms.

Many part-time employees also pose hazards for the general public. According to Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress, notes that 80 percent of food-service workers do not have paid sick days, and can easily spread disease to customers when they attend work while ill. The Inquisitr reports that, not only do many food service establishments deny their employees healthcare, but many employers do not inform their employees about health benefits that they do indeed have the right to use.

Boushey adds that the US is the only developed country without a law that guarantees employees the right to paid sick leave, noting that many undeveloped nations have laws protecting employees rights to paid sick days.

Do you think that part of the flu epidemic is people going to work sick?

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7 Responses to “Flu Epidemic: One In Three American Workers Has No Paid Sick Leave, Contributes To Spread Of Disease”

  1. Robin Miller

    If a restaurant advertised "All our workers have health insurance and sick leave" I'd be more likely to patronize them and would even be willing to pay a premium price.

  2. Pam Kelley Sargent

    I managed a retail store with about 15 employees. I had no say in benefits or sick leave and most of my staff were not covered. I could not force them to go home when they were sick because "rent was due or I have to fix the car, etc etc." And the company also had a days absent policy, they could lose their jobs if they were off too many days. It didn't take long for most of my employees to be sick even with a strict hand washing order. All they wanted to do was to curl up on the couch with a blanket and some ginger ale to drink. Unfortunately, that was a luxury they could not afford.

  3. Lawrence Mintz

    How terribly sad that the American work force is used abused and disregarded like a can of garbage!!!!

  4. Shalla Alnwick

    once again, how can america screw over the working class. the richest country in the world and we don't pass laws that require sick pay. greedy ass business people are destroying the very fabric of this country, NOT people who are poor and need assistance. ive NEVER had a job that gives sick pay. why is the answer so goddamn obvious and yet they are still allowed to commit the acts of selfishness upon theur employees??? can't ANYONE get this done? and while they are at it RAISE THE GODDAMN MINIMUN WAGE!!!!! GIVE US SICK PAY YOU GREEDY ASSHOLES!!!!!

  5. Dustin Painter

    glad I work for a company that does…shit it accrues faster than my vacation time !

  6. Josh Michaud

    What also sucks is some places give you paid sick days, but it goes against your attendance if you use it, which can affect future raises/promotions. Heck, they could even fire you for missing to much work! As a manager myself, I hate when people call in sick (mostly because I have to cover for it) but if your really actually sick, then stay the fuck home!