Study Shows Workers with Earned Sick Days are Healthier, More Productive

Jun 18, 2013

By Lily Jamaludin

In recent weeks, politicians have been making controversial decisions on earned sick leave bills. Last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed a bill that would mandate up to five days of earned sick leave for an estimated one million workers. And on Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill blocking local governments from enacting mandatory earned sick leave measures.

When politicians reject earned sick leave, they are putting workers' health and business productivity at risk. A new study in the American Journal of Public Health reveals that seasonal influenza spreads among employees at a much higher rate when workplaces do not offer earned sick days.

The study bases its calculations on existing data showing that 72 percent of workers who have access to earned sick days stay home when ill with influenza. In contrast, just 52 percent of employees without access to earned sick days typically stay home when infected with the flu.

The study models how the transmission of illness would be affected by two specific types of policies: 1) universal sick leave for employees; and 2) two paid "flu days" when employees can stay home if specifically ill with influenza.

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