Defending the Right to Sick Leave

Have you ever shown up for work even when you were sick?

Though it is becoming increasingly common for workplaces to allow employees to take a certain number of days off each year if they're ill,  many workers are still forced to come to work anyway.   While at least 145 counties have laws in place ensuring paid leave for employees who are either sick or caring for a sick family member, efforts to pass similar legislation in the United States have failed so far.   

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, thirty-nine percent of American workers in the private sector have no paid sick leave; this rises to seventy-seven percent for low-wage workers.   While surveys show that paid sick leave is a popular issue with most Americans, many employers continue to oppose it on economic grounds.   The typical rationale appears to be that paid sick leave is too expense and vulnerable to abuse.

But is forcing employees to come to work when they sick actually a good idea?   Though it may seem counter-intuitive, recent research suggests that presenteeism, or the act of showing up for work despite being sick may actually be even more costly to employers than absenteeism is.   Presenteeism can occur for different reasons, even in workplaces that allow paid sick leave.   People may comie in while sick due to fear of being fired, economic necessity (when there is no paid sick leave), or simply because of wanting to get an important project done,     Whatever the reason, the economic of presenteeism are surprisingly high.   According to statistics, estimated costs of presenteeism to U.S. employers are more than $150 billion dollars each year.

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post







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