Competing Claims On The Value Of Mandatory Sick Leave

The Employment Policies Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, DC, is releasing a new poll suggesting that paid sick leave is subject to widespread misuse.  Just over half of the survey respondents said they knew someone who used sick days for reasons other than illness, such as extra vacation time.  Research fellow Michael Saltsman.

“It could be more harmful to some businesses when they’re not only losing this day of employee productivity but they’re also losing it for reasons that have nothing to do with the employee getting better.”

Saltsman says the poll’s findings undercut the argument that such leave is both affordable for business and necessary for low income workers. Campaigns to provide for mandatory paid sick leave are currently underway in numerous cities and states around the country.

Connecticut is the first state to mandate such leave. The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank also based in Washington, helped design Connecticut’s law.

Douglas Hall heads the group’s Economic Analysis and Research Network.

“When you actually crunch the numbers, it’s such a tiny fraction of revenues that businesses have coming in that it’s almost not even worth talking about.”

Hall argues that, without paid sick leave, low-income workers are forced to choose between coming to work ill, and risking spreading their germs around the workplace, or staying home and risking losing their jobs. Either way, he says, those costs to the economy are far greater than any imposed by workers playing hooky.

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