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Report: Everyone Pays the Price for Lack of Paid Sick Leave

A new Florida Atlantic University report finds a lack of paid sick leave means working families are twice as likely to delay or forgo medical care.  (MGDboston/morguefile)
A new Florida Atlantic University report finds a lack of paid sick leave means working families are twice as likely to delay or forgo medical care. (MGDboston/morguefile)
March 22, 2016

BOCA RATON, Fla. - It's a dilemma faced by working families in Florida and across the nation, what to do about work when someone is sick and a new report finds the decision has consequences for everyone.

Chipotle was back in the news recently for closing a Boston-area restaurant after four employees became ill.

In a rare move, the embattled chain decided to offer paid sick leave last year.

LeaAnne DeRigne, associate professor of Florida Atlantic University is the study's lead author, and she says the U.S. lags behind 22 other countries that make employers provide paid sick days.

"What research has shown is that workers with paid sick leave who are able to recuperate are actually more productive than workers who are on the job ill," says DeRigne. "We're really starting to see where it makes business sense to give your employees paid sick leave."

The report found families without sick-leave benefits, including those with children, are twice as likely to delay health-care treatment.

DeRigne says timely care is important for making sure conditions don't get worse and end up costing a lot more than a day's wages.

Only four states California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oregon, require employers to offer paid sick benefits.

DeRigne says that leaves 49 million workers without sick days.

She says when workers in jobs dealing with the public, such as food service, child care, retail and others, show up to work sick, it can create public health issues.

"We don't want people serving us burritos who have the flu," says DeRigne. "And if you're going to pick up a bowl of soup somewhere, you really hope that the person who made that is not ill at work. We want them home, self-quarantining, so that we're not all passing germs to one another."

She said keeping sick kids out of school helps keep other kids from getting sick, so workers need paid time off to stay home with children.

The study found people in low-wage jobs without benefits are most vulnerable, and workers who are ill also are more prone to injuries and mistakes.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL