Health

Flu Epidemics Hit U.S., Millions of Americans Don't Get Sick Days from Employers

| by Michael Allen

Flu epidemics are sweeping across the U.S. with 42,000 confirmed cases, so far.

The New York Times reports: "The country is in the grip of three emerging flu or flulike epidemics: an early start to the annual flu season with an unusually aggressive virus, a surge in a new type of norovirus, and the worst whooping cough outbreak in 60 years."

While the Centers for Disease Control advises Americans to "stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.”

Unfortunately for millions of Americans workers, paid sick days are a non-existent option. 

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ThinkProgress.org reports that 40 percent of private sector workers and 80 percent of low-income workers do not have any paid sick days, while 20 percent of workers reports losing their job or being told they will be fired for even asking to take off time for sickness.

The situation is especially dangerous in the food industry, where germs are easily spread, as 79 percent of food workers have no paid sick time.

The National Partnership for Women and Families claims that a lack of sick days or paid sick days hurts the American economy in the long run:

Replacing workers can cost anywhere from 25 to 200 percent of annual compensation. Paid sick days result in reduced turnover, which leads to reduced costs incurred from advertising, interviewing and training new hires. This is particularly important in lower-wage industries where turnover is highest.

Employers also reap the benefits of greater worker loyalty…Paid sick days help to decrease the productivity lost when employees work sick – known as “presenteeism” – which is estimated to cost our national economy $160 billion annually, surpassing the cost of absenteeism. The majority of human resources executives agree that presenteeism is a problem because of potential productivity loss and the risk of spreading infection.