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Sick leave allows individuals to take time off work when they need to and still get paid. However, individual companies often determine who gets paid during sick leave and who has to take a hit for not showing up at work. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey, the good news is that the number of people who have paid sick leave has increased since the early 1990s. The bad news is that millions of people still don’t have access to the same benefits.
Who currently gets paid sick leave? Patterns in the statistics across the US indicate that those with full time white-collar jobs get paid sick leave most often, while those in blue collar and part-time jobs often work hard every day without any benefit if they have to take a day off. Higher earners are also more likely to receive paid sick leave.
In our state, all employees who work at a place more than 30 days are entitled to paid sick leave, following a law that went into effect in July 2015. Both temporary and part-time employees can take advantage of the benefits. Employers reserve the right to limit how employees can use sick leave over a certain period of time. Employees may carry over paid sick time not used the year before. In addition to these state-wide laws, certain jurisdictions have also enacted similar paid sick leave statutes for workers in city limits. San Francisco, Oakland, and Emeryville all have local ordinances.
One major concern of extending paid sick leave benefits to all employees across the US is the potential for abuse. If an employee has 7 paid sick days available throughout the year, what is to stop them from playing hooky? However, considerations for a nationwide policy have used Connecticut’s experience as a baseline. The state saw no meaningful change in the amount of time taken off of work after enacting a statute for statewide paid sick leave. And the benefits are potentially numerous.
Having the freedom to leave work if you’re sick without suffering a financial loss often makes employees feel respected and more loyal to a company than they would be otherwise. Many people bring contagious viruses and infections into the workplace because they can’t afford to stay home. This often increases the duration of an illness and exposes other employees to the same contagion, while often decreasing productivity levels. Paid sick leaves allow people to take the time they need to stay well.
Paid sick leave could also make a big difference in workers’ compensation across the country. Workers who don’t come into work sick are less likely to make mistakes and cause injuries or be injured.
Indications in the media and from the current administration indicate that the time for paid sick leave as a right instead of a benefit is near. Starting in 2017, all federal contractors will be required to provide paid sick leave to workers up to 7 days per year. While the number of workers affected is only about 300,000, the change could represent a shift in overall attitudes toward paid sick leave in the workplace. Many large companies have already started to initiate change. Companies such as Facebook will only work with other companies who offer employees sick leave, and workplace chains including Chipotle already offer all workers paid sick leave.
If your employer is not granting you paid sick leave in California or you have a question regarding your rights, please contact our team at DiMarco Arujo Montevideo today.