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Study: Paid sick-time would help employers, too

August 7, 2012

A new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research concludes that the proposed initiative mandating sick time for workers in Orange County would not only benefit employees, but businesses, as well.

The sick-time study attributes most of the savings for employers to reduced turnover in their workforce.

An estimated 255,490 workers in Orange County — 46 percent of private sector workers — do not have paid sick days.

The initiative proposed by a coalition of progressive groups called Citizens for a Greater Orange County would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide workers with up to 56 hours of paid sick time a year. Smaller businesses would not have to provide paid time off, but could not retaliate against workers who take unpaid time off because they are sick or caring for a sick family member.

According to the study, implementing the initiative would cost Orange County employers $33.8 million a year, or an average 17 cents an hour per worker. Workers covered by the paid sick-time initiative would use an average of 2.5 sick days a year, the study says.

But the study concludes employers would save a combined $39 million — almost all of that from reduced turnover. That savings is the equivalent of an average 20 cents an hour per worker. Employees and the community would benefit from fewer emergency room visits and reduced flu contagion.

The measure still hasn’t made it on the ballot, and there’s a battle brewing. Supporters are expected to address Orange County Commissioners this afternoon.