Paid sick days should be mandatory because we have a duty to care for everyone in our society. I have worked in the service industry for most of my adult career. People in this line of work are already not earning a whole lot, we all know that. We are not getting paid sick days, so we are forced to choose to go into work or go into debt (or even further debt), or possibly lose our jobs, when we are ill.
For those of us with chronic illnesses, one day off might make all the difference in the world. When I have a migraine, I cannot function. I forget simple words, and just can’t concentrate in general. What use am I to my employer when I feel like that? I have a sense of obligation to my employer, and if I go to work at half capacity I feel that I am basically stealing from them. But I must provide for myself. We all must. It is not anyone’s fault when they get sick, or have a child that is ill, or an elderly parent. These are all parts of being human, and we don’t seem to be making any allowances for the fact that we are human. A business cannot run without its employees; investing in your people is investing in your business.
According to researchers from Cornell University, employees going to work sick account for nearly 60% of the overall healthcare costs of an employer. This is more than absentee workers, and far more than companies pay in direct medical and disability costs. I am not suggesting that I know more about running a business than my employer does, but I am saying that I know more about employee morale and how to keep myself healthy than does my employer.
But more important than creating more cost-efficient workplaces is the notion that we all have a right to work with Dignity. We should be able to decide for ourselves, if and when we need time off to get well, and not have that important health decision be made by stress inducing factors like ability to pay rent, heat, phone bill or keeping your job.