With flu season approaching, 48% of workers without paid sick leave

Flu maskWith the fall flu season on its way and the second sweep of the swine flu virus hitting the U.S., it's painful to see that nearly half of U.S. workers have no paid sick leave, according to a UPI story.

And that, as anyone who has ever had a sick child knows, can only lead to worse problems as parents get sick and spread the flu at work.

"A child can't stay home without a parent staying with them. So if the parent doesn't have paid sick time, the child most likely goes to school, and the parent goes to to work," said Shula Warren, chief of staff for New York City Council member Gale Brewer, in the UPI story.

It's time for the United States to mandate paid sick time at all workplaces. Without it, the H1N1 swine flu virus and flu virus could only get worse.

Forty-eight percent of U.S. private-sector workers can't take paid leave without advance notice, according to the National Partnership in a CNNMoney story.

San Francisco voters passed a law in 2006 requiring paid sick leave for all workers, and Washington, D.C., followed with its own law last year, although it exempts new hires and restaurant staff who earn part of their pay in tips.

Fifteen states and cities have paid sick leave bills in the works. Connecticut narrowly missed becoming the first state to mandate paid sick time earlier this year when the state legislature fell one vote short of passing a bill that would have required businesses with 50 employees or more to provide up to 6.5 paid sick days per year.

Influenza-like illnesses are already going up three months before the traditional start of flu season, and while businesses are preparing for worker shortages, the best way to lower the chance of the flu spreading at work is to give workers the peace of mind of knowing they can afford to stay home sick.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net

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