Should Employers Be Required to Provide Paid Sick Leave?

Paid Sick Days Law Connecticut's passage of the nation's first statewide paid sick leave law has workers and business owners eyeing the trend to see its potential for adoption nationwide.

In part, that's because Connecticut was the first state to pass a Family Medical Leave Act, which required employers to grant employees unpaid leave for family and medical reasons with the guarantee of a job upon returning to work. A similar, federal FMLA was signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and now applies to most workers in all states.

As with FMLA, Connecticut's new paid sick leave law applies only to businesses with 50 or more employees. The bill also exempts manufacturers and nationally chartered nonprofits, such as the YMCA, and covers only workers in service professions who earn an hourly wage. The legislation provides workers with up to five paid sick days a year through a formula the gives workers one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked.

Business groups and lawmakers opposed to the bill have criticized its passage, calling it a job killer, arguing that paid sick-leave laws drive businesses to other states that don't have such legislation.

Supporters say that workers who can take paid leave are more productive, dedicated and likely to show up to work on time.

In a statement following passage of the bill in the state House of Representatives on Saturday, Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat who pushed for the law, said:

"This is good public policy and, specifically, good public health. Why would you want to eat food from a sick restaurant cook? Or have your children taken care of by a sick day-care worker? The simple answer is -- you wouldn't. And now, you won't have to."

The bill is controversial, in part, because no one really knows if any of the claims -- pro or con -- are true. Nobody knows the answer, says Laura Hertzog, workplace expert at Cornell University's ILR School in Manhattan. But with Connecticut now taking the lead, an answer will be forthcoming in the next few years.

"People are going to watch [what happens]," she says. "This is now going to be the test case." Hertzog doesn't expect an immediate nationwide movement of states adopting legislation requiring employers to offer paid sick leave, although several cities, including San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have existing statutes.

The U.S. is the world's lone industrialized nation not to have a national labor policy governing sick leave -- or, for that matter, vacation. "Most civilized, industrialized countries have paid vacation," Hertzog says. "We do not, and most people do not realize that."

In that vein, the lack of a federal law mandating paid sick days is consistent with U.S. policies, in general, she says.

U.S. workplace policies are predicated on an initial belief that governments shouldn't interfere with companies' ability to make money as they see fit and to let business make its own decision.

Should employers be required to provide paid sick leave?
Yes1465 (70.4%)
No502 (24.1%)
Only for certain jobs113 (5.4%)

Despite its free-market underpinnings, advocates for mandated paid sick leave argue that the American workplace not only needs such laws but exposes itself to risks unnecessarily in their absence.

As Malloy pointed out, no one benefits from having a food worker sneeze on someone else's meal.

"These are pretty fundamental issues," Hertzog says. "Sick people should not be at work if only for the reason that they'll make other people sick."

Another contention of the law's opponents is that workers will abuse the perk. But Hertzog doesn't think that's likely, especially among those service workers who rely on tips for a big chunk of their income.

"People are not going to abuse the system," she says, "because it's going to cost them money."


Next: Proposed Constrictor Snake Ban Could Squeeze Thousands of Jobs


Stories from CNN Money

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

99 Comments

Filter by:
Loren

And who is going to pay for this foolishness?? Most of the European Socialist Governments are broke or going broke. Companies will calculate this mandate into your annual salary. When your next evaluation comes up they will tell you that you already got your raise in sick days. This Country is already going broke with "Feel Good" legislation. We are at a dangerous point right now!! Almost 1/2 of the population lives off of the federal Dole. When 1/2 plus one get there they will vote in their favored handout artist.

June 09 2011 at 8:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sun

I've worked in environments that had both paid and unpaid sick leave. It seems those viral illnesses always come to work and spread it around, where as when someone had an article or chapter to finish they'd call in and say "I'm taking a sick day". Sorry, it is not a vacation day and it gets abused in a major way. If you're sick you're sick and that is differnent. Employees can pay for extended medical leave which means they use up all their vacation days first, then their sick leave-so they're paid and this works for the poor person with a major illness. At JCP they had 2 sick leaves which amounted to use your vacation first, then the frist sick leave, then half pay for the rest, up to a year, I think. The bit but here-you paid for the insurance and it was cheap. My husband used both because they didn't want him back after a triple bypass during Christmas season. That same place, I still don't know how they did it, but when my daughter had a serious accident, he'd just started and he was off work for 10 days at the hospital. He never had a stop in his paydays and he was hourly. (Some major chains take care of their own when and this was before FMLA). Yet I've worked at places that irresponsible partying the night before ends up in a sick day because they are too drunk to work. Not my problem, not the problem of the employer-and they do have that sort of counselling if the idiots would see help, but they should not be rewarded with a sick day because they wanted to stay up drinking all night. In other words-ligitimate sick day yay, abuse of sick day-fire em.

June 09 2011 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
petersonentvt

I am an small business owner and I employ people. I am in the service industry. I dont have enough employees that this would be an issue for me but I pay all my workers hourly and I charge all my customers hourly. If I have an employee who is not working for any reason then I cant charge anyone for those hours. In other words if I have to pay an employee for time not worked that comes out of the business profit which trickles down to my profit. Maybe for a company with 50 plus employees paying people not to work can be absorbed but for a small business with only a few employees it just isnt feasible. I am nice enough to pay some holidays and pay some vacation time but to pay for sick days (especially if an employee abuses the priviledge) would drasticaly hurt the profit my business makes. I greatly appreciate the workers I have and I pay them very well compared to other similar businesses in the area. However I cant give all profits away. If all I am doing is spinning my wheels then I have no need to be in business and some very good employees would lose their jobs. Nobody pays me when I am sick and nobody pays me when I go to the Doctor/Dentist etc. Certainly some companies that profit millions and even billions should pay sick time but us people that run small businesses just cant do that. Fortunately the talk is that only companies with me than 50 employees would be affected.

June 09 2011 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to petersonentvt's comment
Boatnmaniac

Fortunately for you, that law doesn't apply to you because your company size is too small.

You didn't say what type of business you have but if your sick employees need to interact with customers you are doing your customers a disservice. I have been known to "fire" businesses who send over sick employees and then I also refuse to pay for the service call so that can't be too cost effective for the employer, either. So, please make sure your customers never have to interact directly with your customers.

June 09 2011 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mysticalwyzard

I think next they need to pass a mandatory 5 weeks of vacation law for employees like every other industrialized nation in the world does.......Americans are so over worked.......A well rested employee is a much more productive, much more loyal and much happier employee.....Most American companies take advantage of there employees just because they can!

June 09 2011 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
qapla5

It seems like most of the comments so far have come from typical brain-dead conservatives who oppose any sort of sensible workplace ideas. All these morons who whine and bitch about all the "deadbeats" who are going to "abuse" their sick leave need to read what sick leave does. The Connecticut bill gives FIVE DAYS A YEAR. The average worker, lucky enough to work 5 days a week, for 52 weeks a year, works a total of 260 days, and you idiots think they're going to abuse FIVE days a year?


I'll bet these same whiners would just love to go out to dinner one night, only to be served by a waiter or waitress who's sniffling and sneezing and coughing. Or they go to the grocery store and the checkout clerk has a hacking cough and blowing his/her nose into a tissue that looks like it's on its last legs and handling your fresh produce and getting all sorts of germs on the rest of your groceries. Or they go to a clothes store and the salesperson is handing them clothes to try on while snorting back a huge batch of snot or trying to hold back a sneeze (and failing miserably). What do you think would happen if even one of these whiners got sick from one of these employees who couldn't afford to take one sick day from work? LAWSUIT.

Face facts, conservatards. Businesses that care about their employees DON'T want them coming in sick and would have no problem offering paid sick leave. Unfortunately, we don't have businesses that care about anyone or anything that might cost them one cent. And it seems there are a lot of people who don't want anything that they don't get from their own jobs.

June 09 2011 at 7:42 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to qapla5's comment
Sun

Everywhere I've worked that had it had 12 days a year and unused sick days remained up to something like 30 or 60 days, plus vacations days to be used which were again12 a year and 5 holidays, and then employees had 2 tiers of sick day insurance after that full pay then either half or three quarters pay. These were nonunion jobs., just perks given to us. and they were good after resgnation as well up to so many days. If a national law were to be put into place, that would mean that employers didn't have to give us this (and probably would work to the letter of the law instead).

June 09 2011 at 8:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
redneckpaul

Why is the USPS in the hole 40 billion? Because they have deadbeat employees who take advantage of all the sick leave they get. I work for the Postal Service and I see it all the time. Some employees think if they have 1000 hours sick leave that they earned it and are entitled to use it. Get the Government involved in anything and they find a way to F@#K it up.

June 09 2011 at 7:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
v7howkloosh

ALL OF THESE OPPOSITION COMMENTS ARE ALL BASED ON IF. WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IS FIRE THE EMPLOYEES WHO DONT WORK AND FIRE THE MANAGEMENT WHO ALLOWS THE GAMES TO BE PLAYED. AND STOP BEING A BLIND IGNORANT DUFUS WHO SEES PEOPLE WORKING AND INSTEAD OF INVESTING IN YOUR PEOPLE WHO GOBBLE UP THE PROFITS AND TRY TO PAY YOUR WORKERS AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE I HAVE NO SYMPATHY FOR YOU PRETENDERS WHO CRY OH I WILL HAVE TO DOWNSIZE WAH WAH WAH DOWNSIZE YOUR DAMNED MERCEDES AND BMW DOWNSIZE YOUR VACATION HOMES AND DOWNSIZE YOUR KIDS TOY BOX AND LEARN TO SHARE YOUR TOO IGNORANT TO EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR DOING IS GOING TO DO YOU IN.

June 09 2011 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
v7howkloosh

Boy you can sure see the blind ignorance out in america in manyh of these comments OBAMA DID NOT CREATE THIS RECESSION GWBUSH DID ALONG WITH ALL OF YOU WHO VOTED FOR THAT SCOUNDREL AND HIS WARS. THE RECESSION WAS IN FULL SWING BEFORE OBAMA GOT ELECTED WAKE UP DOLTS! Its amazing how utterly blind of facts most people talk. Seems you play into the hands of the elete and will die in their hands. Its just incredibly stupid to see how many americans dont think 5 damned sick days a year cant be given. Some of you will not wake up and think most of you wont. Youve already allowed your entire country to be ripped off big time trillions of dollars stolen from the united states treasury and the pentagon budget while you rant on about liberals and party crap. YOUR BEING PLAYED AND YOUR VERY EASY.

June 09 2011 at 7:37 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
ravynsdaughter

Wow- I cannot believe people feel the need to think this through. People with above a certain employment level (read- management) usually already have paid sick leave as a perk. Its the people who can least afford to take unpaid sick leave who will be most likely to benefit from thie law. And coincidentally, those are usually the same people who touch what you touch on a daily basis. They are your waiters, your cooks, your teacher's aides, your personal care staff at hospitals and nursing homes, the people handling your food in the fields and at the grocery store. Next time some you care about has a hospital stay due to food poisoning or the latest flu epidemic, talk to me about how expensive a simple sick day would have been. I can personally attest to the fact that a medivac helicopter can cost upwards of 30-40 THOUSAND dollars to medivac a child sick with a virus to another state. I would have personally kicked in the 80-100 hundred dollar sick pay for the teacher's aide or parent of a sick child to stay home to have avoided that bill.

June 09 2011 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ravynsdaughter's comment
Sun

my husband was hourly/commission sales and worked for a national retailer and the perks were outstanding, read my other comments. I've worked for a couple of universities and I was Academic Secretary, Medical Secretary, and Research Assistant-depending on posts, my nursing jobs had those same perks as well, and when I worked retail, I had those same perks-all nonunion jobs and we had the perks.

June 09 2011 at 8:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sun's comment
Sun

in fact, the my husband's employer had the same perks for management that they did for hourly, but you had to be there a year first.

June 09 2011 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Sun

man, I don't know where you work but hospitals---I have always had sick leave, even as an aid when starting out. Now, the big thing here is I was not union. Union jobs have different perks depending on what they wanted, but even ours had sick leave. Retail workers also have sick leave, my husband was one for over 40 years, (and right now he just works as a cashier and he has sick leave and sick days both and he's makin only $7.65 an hour)

June 09 2011 at 8:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
v7howkloosh

AMERICA IS IGNORANT. WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR AMERICAN COMPANIES TO BE KIND AND HUMAN? WHY? WHY ARE ONLY THE HOURLY WORKERS REQUIRED TO BE NEVER SICK AND TO BE LOOKED OWN ON IF THEY NEED TO TAKE A DAY OFF? WHY? MANAGEMENT GETS ALL THE TIME OFF IT WANTS SICK,... PERSONAL<.... it doesnt matter management makes plenty and the salaries just keep paying but let an hourly person get the flu and they are brought in like they committed a presidential assasination!
COPS GET PAID SICK TIME, GOVERMENT OFFICIALS GET PAID SICK TIME. HOW COME ONLY THOSE WHO NEED IT THE MOST ARENT GIVEN IT? THIS DAMNED HYPOCRITE COUNTRY SCREAMS ONE NATION UNDER GOD BUT THEY HAVE NO CHRISTIAN VALUES AT ALL. THEY DONT BELIEVE IN GOD IF THEY DID HOW DO THEY THINK HE WOULD SEE THE FILTHY CRUEL ATTACK ON HUMANS AND THE HUMAN FAMILY UNIT THAT CORPORATE AMERICAN HAS UNDERTAKEN? WAKE UP AMERICA.

June 09 2011 at 7:32 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to v7howkloosh's comment
Sun

Man, I don't know where you've worked. Any place that I have there were those perks available. to both part time and full time employees. My husband as well. I've worked in Illinois, California, Texas and Michigan over many years and those benefits were available. Some you have to pay for (about $1.75 a week, others are given. The thing is you have to put in the time, usually 6 months to a year and the perks appear. Except my jobs it wa 1 sick day a month, not 5, my husband as well. The perks began at part-time 15 hours a week to some better for full time (30 hours a week)

June 09 2011 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

Week of Sep 28 - Oct 5
View All

Picks From the Web