Should Everyone Get Paid Sick Leave?
Terry Braverman and Company

Should Everyone Get Paid Sick Leave?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I like to call in sick to work at places where I’ve never held a job. Then when the manager tells me I don’t work there, I tell them I’d like to. But not today, as I’m sick.” ― Jarrod Kintz



Most of the world thinks it’s a healthy idea. Paid sick leave is provided in almost 150 countries, and 66% of those sanction one month or more. They include many of the wealthier nations, e.g., Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore.


The specifics vary, but the general rule is if a doctor certifies that someone is ill, they do not have to work to receive their pay. Of course, the system is subject to abuse when some workers take the day off on the pretext of being sick. But those who are truly sick are seldom productive and are much more vulnerable to workplace accidents. More importantly, they could easily compromise the health of their co-workers and customers, causing greater harm. Paid sick leave for people who are genuinely sick is widely regarded as a worthy one. The problems start when workers come to see it as an entitlement that they can add to their holiday allowance – whether or not they are really sick.


I prefer the broader concept of PTO (Paid Time Off). It would be better to give each employee a number of paid personal days that can be used for sick leave (certified by a physician or not), study leave, or other absences for personal and family reasons - for whatever they need. And employees should not be tempted to lie about whether they are sick or not.


What about incentivizing a program, rewarding people for having no sick days to reduce the probability of people taking days off sick when they are not sick? It can be a paid bonus at Christmas - a good motivator. Add paid personal days or bonuses for employees who enroll in wellness programs for fitness, weight reduction, stop smoking plans, etc. A proactive approach becomes a shared responsibility of both employee and employer.


What are your thoughts on the issue? Should people have to verify they are sick to get paid? Should people be able to take paid sick leave when a member of their family is ill? Should there be a maximum period? Should pay be proportional, or the full amount? Should this matter be the responsibility of employees, employers, or government?






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