Why paid sick days?

1. Paid sick days improve the public health.

Workers without paid sick days are heavily concentrated in jobs that require a high level of interaction with the public — the people who serve and prepare our food,  look after our children and care for the elderly. When those workers feel compelled to come to work sick, it’s not just their health that’s at risk — it’s all of us.

  • One in eight food service workers reports having come to work sick twice in the last year, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. (Source)
  • In nursing homes with paid sick days, patients are 60% less likely to contract infections from the staff. (Source)
  • During the H1N1 epidemic, 8 million Americans came to work while infected with the swine flue virus, and infected another 7 million people. (Source)
  • According to the Center for Disease Control, out of 21 million ‘norovirus’ outbreaks (a common food-borne virus) annually, roughly half are caused by ill food workers. (Source 1, Source 2)

2. Paid sick days protect economic security.

For too many families, a child’s doctor’s appointment means missing out on pay and catching the flu can cost you your job. Especially in these tough economic times, just a few paid sick days a year can provide working families a much needed measure of economic security. No one should have to choose between their job and their family’s health.

  • Over 400,00 Connecticut employees, mostly low wage workers, lack paid sick days, with the largest concentrations in food service, retail and health care. (Source)
  • Nearly one in four workers reports that they have lost a job or were
    told they would lose their job if they took time off due to personal or family illness. (Source)
  • Half of working moms miss work when a child gets sick. Of these, half lose pay when they take this time off. (Source)

3. Paid sick days are smart business.

By Allowing employees to earn paid sick time, employers increases productivity at the workplace and save money in the long run. Employees who come to work sick are less productive and recover more slowly. They may make costly errors. They’re also likely to spread illness to co-workers, which reduces productivity and increases absenteeism. Paid sick days help retain good employees and keep turnover costs low.

  • A recent study found the cost to a company of providing paid sick days is just .19% (less than two tenths of one percent) of sales. (Source)
  • San Francisco enacted a paid sick days policy in 2007. A recent surveys found that 2/3rds of businesses now support the policy. (Source)
  • Presenteeism, (the cost of employees’ lower productivity when working sick) costs employers $180 billion annually – considerably more than the cost of absenteeism. (Source)

4. Paid sick days make our healthcare system more efficient and effective.

Paid sick days allow working families to get regular preventive care and early   treatment for illnesses. People without paid sick days are more likely to depend on emergency room services, driving up costs for all of us. They’re also less likely to receive the kind of preventive care that keeps people healthy, lessens the risk of chronic illness, and keeps healthcare costs down for all of us over the long term.

  • Workers without paid sick days are twice as likely to seek medical care in the emergency room because they couldn’t get time off from work. (Source)
  • 28% of parents of children with asthma have missed at least one medical appointment because they could not get time off work. (Source)
  • In 2008, 47,000 ‘preventable hospitalizations’ cost Connecticut $1.2 billion in charges that could have been prevent with timely treatment. (Source)
  • Since many workers without paid sick days have HUSKY as their health insurance, the increased cost of their care is born directly by taxpayers.

You can get even more data on the issue of paid sick days in our research section.