Recently, I went to a pancake restaurant and my waitress was sneezing into a tissue as she served me my breakfast. Gross right? But I had to cut her some slack when I learned today that four out of five restaurant workers don't get paid sick days.
In fact, its kind of creepy to discover the people who serve you in restaurants and prepare your food are most likely to come to work sick. New research found employees in the food service and preparation industry have the lowest rate of access to health insurance and time off, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research(IWPR).
Overall a whopping 44 million workers don't have paid sick leave. The research also found jobs that don't offer paid sick leave have high rates of turn-over.
We've heard the excuses: businesses are struggling and need their employees to be at work. But to me it seems like a no brainer to give workers one of two sick days a year. Certainly, it won't put an employer out of business and could keep the flu or other illnesses from spreading through a workplace or making a customer sick. Isn't it just good business?
I know it's not just the money. Some people really believe they will get fired if they take even one day off. But what boss in her right mind wants to be anywhere near someone whose under the weather. Have you ever wished a co-worker would stay home instead of breathing germs in your direction? I have.
Nationally, there are some big time efforts underway to force employers to offer paid sick days. San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee have passed laws requiring that employers provide paid sick days to workers. Similar laws are being considered in states and cities around the country including New York City. The Healthy Families Act, introduced in Congress every year since 2005, would mandate employer-provided paid sick days at the national level.
"This study has important implications for the nation's economy," said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. "With unemployment so high and job searches taking so long, greater access to earned paid sick days will help ensure that workers won't lose their jobs if they get sick or a child needs care. That is especially important for low-income workers who are already struggling terribly in this recession."
Do you think forcing employers to pay for one or two sick days a year is too big a burden? Do you think the money is the reason why people come to work sick or is fear of job security a bigger factor?