Stay in bed for mandatory paid sick days

Sick in bedThe latest hub-bub in Ohio and around the country has been the push for all employers to offer paid sick days to all of their employees. The proposal, currently working its way through state legislation, is under fire because many see it as yet another area where the government is stepping into the business sector.

This may be true, but this time I am behind the intrusion as long as the lawmakers can draft a law which provides some minimum of mandatory sick days to employees, while also allowing for many of the notable exceptions included in the new minimum wage law. Hopefully it will also provide some flexibility in there as well. All that, and it has my yes vote!

This is a good idea for one simple reason. The first thing you hear from teachers and school administrators is to keep your kids home when they are sick so that whatever they have isn't spread throughout the entire school. This same principle applies to small businesses, maybe even more so because a good deal of them do not have the capacity to carry on with five employees all out since Jayne didn't stay home with pink eye because rent was due next week.

Sure some individuals will abuse the new-found time off to deal with the sniffles or nurse a hangover, but paid sick days are already mandatory in Washington D.C., where businesses and organizations seem to be getting along fine despite this additional burden of paid sick time off.

In San Francisco, where there is a similar measure, the director of a local restaurant association reports that this abuse is, "not as widespread as people thought at the beginning." Personally if your employees are abusing sick days, I'd suggest that you look into the other facets of their work. An employee willing to abuse sick days won't likely have the drive for quality work whenever he is in the office. And the sooner you learn about this behavior, the more quickly you can start saving money by finding a more committed employee.

Another reason to keep sick people at home is due to their lower productivity. This is purely anecdotal evidence, but on days when my coworkers or I come to work sick there is a noticeable drag on productivity. Much like the flu our co-worker gave you, productivity drain itself is contagious. Other employees will waste time checking in on the co-worker, constantly using hand sanitizer and complaining to each other about how they can't take sick time off. Before you know it, an entire day has been wasted.

Another reason I am behind this measure? It's personal. While I have a good deal of sick days and don't use many of them, the job my wife just left provided no sick leave at all. Despite working there for more than two years, there was no possibility of taking a paid sick day off. On the one occasion in which she was truly "stay in bed" sick, the office manager gave her an earful about taking the day off. It may surprise you that this took place in a doctor's office, where she was constantly exposed to the sick, the very young and the elderly, many of whom have weak immune systems.

If mandatory paid sick days are put into law with reasonable limitations, I think we can all win. I think there should definitely be some requirements on informing your employer that you will be off due to a sickness as well as a delay between when you start and when you get sick time off. I think that at the least employers should not need to provide paid sick time until after the person has been employed for 90 days, and at the most a year. These time constraints should provide employers with enough time to find out if the employee is worth keeping on and thus providing them with sick days.

Unfortunately, right now is a bad time to put this onto businesses who are already facing higher expenses due to the current economic situation but it wasn't a good time for them to have to give a minimum wage raise either, and there likely won't be a "good" time to require this.
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