The US is still one of the few developed countries that do not offer federal paid sick leave protection for their workers. Over the past few years, some 14 states have enacted paid sick leave mandates, while 18 states have passed laws prohibiting this type of leave. These laws are preemptive measures with one sole purpose: to stop businesses being impacted by workers’ absence. A new study shows, however, that failing to recognize an employee’s right to recover from an illness or injury can actually have extremely negative consequences for business across the nation.
The Benefits of Paid Sick Leave for US Companies
The study, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, was a review of research conducted over the past 20-plus decades. It looked into the short- and long-term outcomes of investing in paid sick leave. The study showed that access to paid sick leave result in reduced occupational injury. If you are injured at work, you will be entitled to workers’ compensation. However, depending on specific factors (such as the presence of intentional harm, fraudulent concealment of the injury, or not having workers’ compensation insurance) you could decide to bring a lawsuit against the company itself. As such, companies could potentially end up paying large amounts in damages.
Businesses Should Voluntarily Adopt Paid Sick Leave Policies
The researchers concluded that US businesses should consider adopting their own paid sick leave policies, to boost business profitability. Their results showed that paid sick leave was linked to the reduced spread of contagious disease and lower rates of employee death. Moreover, those who had paid sick leave had better morale and enhanced job satisfaction. The companies that hired them boasted a higher retention rate and better profitability and performance.
Paid Sick Leave Lowers Presenteeism Rates
Paid sick leave also helps annihilate presenteeism—which occurs when employees go to work while they are ill or injured. Around 2 percent of workers take part in presenteeism in a given week, resulting in diminished productivity and performance, as well as the likelihood of spreading disease to other employees. Women, low wage earners, and employees aged 25 to 34 tend to be most prone to soldiering on even though they should be home resting. Currently, paid sick leave is enjoyed by 92 percent of Americans earning in the top quartile, yet only 31 percent of those in the lowest quartile have access to it.
Offering employees paid sick leave is, many would say, simply a matter of respect. It is logical that those who are running a fever, battling a major depressive episode, or nursing an injury, can only be harmed by being forced to commute to work, spend hours in an uncomfortable office, or be stripped of the chance to exercise the self-care they need to give their best self to their work. The majority of workers are honest about their need for sick days. Of course, employers who notice that some employees are always absent on a Monday or Friday, or right after big holidays, can take action by calling in workers after each absence. If employees don’t respond as managers would like, they can instigate a formal procedure under their disciplinary policies. Companies usually have a limit when it comes to how many Mondays or Fridays workers take off. Formal procedures should begin with a thorough investigation of whether the employee has underlying health issues.
The findings of a recent study on paid sick leave indicate that it is very much worthwhile investing in by modern companies. Paid sick leave is linked to a reduce spread of disease, lower injury rates, and improved job satisfaction. In the long run, business investing in the wellbeing of their workers reap substantial rewards.