Paid Sick Leave and Epidemics
Government-mandated paid sick leave might improve both public health and the American economy.
Shamus Khan, a sociology professor at Columbia, argues that government-mandated paid sick leave would improve both public health and the American economy. (TIME: “Flu Outbreak: Why Paid Sick Days Matter“)
We are in the midst of one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. By the end of it, about 60 million Americans are likely to contact influenza, over 200,000 will probably to be hospitalized and tens of thousands will have died. While we typically look to doctors and medicines in a health crisis, we should recognize that guaranteeing paid sick days to workers could do as much, if not more, to help moderate the impact of influenza and other contagious diseases.
Every other industrialized nation in the world guarantees this right, but very few places in the U.S. do; they include a handful of cities like San Francisco, Milwaukee, Washington and Seattle — and one lone state: Connecticut. What that means is if you live anywhere else in the nation, you can be fired for missing work because of an illness or for caring for a sick family member. About 40% of workers in the U.S. do not get paid sick days — the Department of Labor classifies it as a “benefit,” not a right protected by law.
This is not just inhumane but a matter of public health. The jobs with the most contact with the public are the least likely to provide sick days, such as the hospitality and food-service industries. For example, when you go to purchase a cup of coffee or eat a restaurant, know that almost all (76%) of the people serving you are likely to show up to work sick, because not doing so means not getting paid and could mean getting fired. Scholars have a name for this — presenteeism: being at work when you otherwise should not be for fear of losing your job or being viewed by your boss as lazy or unreliable. This is a real problem; over two-thirds of American workers report having gone to work even though they knew they had an infectious disease and as a result, about one-third of us have reported getting the flu from a colleague.
In my own city of New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have refused to support paid-sick-leave policies because they believe providing this worker protection will hurt businesses. They’re wrong. Not only is such lack of leadership making millions of Americans sick each year, it’s also costing us money. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown that the cost of sick leave is minimal. And researchers have argued that the productivity gains for other workers who are less likely to get sick because their colleagues stayed home more than makes up for this difference.
In fact, after the city of San Francisco passed a paid-sick-leave bill, it had higher rates of employment compared with its neighboring cities without such a policy. Paid sick leave works. Employees are not only likely to use it, helping stem the spread of disease, they’re also more likely to use preventative-health-care services. The Center for American Progress estimates that universal sick leave could reduce emergency-room visits by 1.3 million per year, saving the U.S. over a billion dollars in medical costs.
While I’m leery of government mandating this sort of thing—both philosophically and in terms of unintended consequences (food service workers would be even less likely to be employed full-time)—it’s intuitively obvious that workers should be able to take sick leave. Indeed, I’ve been in the work force for more than a quarter century and have always had at least a few days of paid sick leave available to me.
I would note, though, that “presenteeism” isn’t entirely relegated to low status workers who fear for their livelihood. People who work in competitive, well compensated career fields tend to show up for work when they’re contagious, too, because they have too much work to do and don’t want to get behind; there’s some important meeting, presentation, or deal that can’t easily be postponed; or just a sense that they ought to be at the office. They typically won’t stay home unless they’re so sick they can’t get out of bed, which often means they’ve been at the office while contagious for a few days beforehand.
This, incidentally, is despite the fact that most companies offer sick leave on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. While annual leave rolls over into the next year—sometimes with a cap—sick leave tends not to.
I wonder how the statistics count the more white collar companies that have combined sick days with vacation days and just call them something like “leave” or “planned time off.” Such a plan still encourages people to come to work sick rather than lose vacation days.
Also, the turn over in places like food preparation or hospitality is very high. Since one does not start with any paid sick leave, what should a company do during the first few months that someone is working.
“Such a plan still encourages people to come to work sick rather than lose vacation days.”
Indeed. This has always been one of my pet peeves about paid time off–people would rather use it for vacation than sick time, so they come to work sick anyway. Not all, of course, but enough. I’m extremely fortunate to work in a field and at a company that working from home is an option. It covers all the bases: if I feel as though I am coming down with something but not so sick that I can’t work, I can do so from home without contaminating anyone else or shifting the burden to a coworker.
I truly feel for those who have to choose between coming to work sick or losing pay.
No reason why part-time workers shouldn’t be given paid leave as well.
There is a company in my area that allows 3 sick days. If you miss more than 3 you get written up and two write ups mean you get fired.
This not only leads to people coming into work sick, it also means they send their kids to school sick.
@Just Me: I believe the term for that is “wage-slavery”.
Most companies have quit rolling regular vacation over to the next year due to the tax implications for them of carrying it.
My current company has paid sick days (# is at your managers discretion) with no carry over. Last company you got 10, and could bank up to 5 into your long term disability.
@Just Me: Yes, this is another problem. Family-unfriendly policies that incentivize parents to load their kids up with Tylenol and ship them off to school.
And everybody is right about the concept of Paid Time Off. I get 15 days a year. I am loathe to use them being sick (or any other use than vacation).
By the way, employment policies in this country are getting worse, not better.
This Shamus Kahn fellow might have discovered the Rosetta Stone of labor and employment relations and public health. Government-mandated paid sick leave could do wonders in helping to prevent the spread of flu. So many more millions of people would be unemployed, and relegated to sitting at home, drawing public assistance, in subsidized housing, they’d only be able to infect themselves and their own families and their own neighbors. Except when they’d take their food stamps to the grocery store to get something meager to eat, in which case the germ factory component of living would continue unabated. And of course the money to pay all of those mandated sick leave days will be there; employers will just press the “money” button at their HQ’s, like the “easy” button in those Staples commercials. And of course San Francisco is doing just swell. Check out Bayview/Hunter’s Point, the Mission and the Tenderloin Districts. Utopia.
Man alive, the liberal academe is loopier than a roller coaster.
In any event, out there on Planet Reality employers already provide paid sick leave to a large majority of the payroll workforce, which adds up to many tens upon tens of millions of workers. Then there’s FMLA and its state law counterparts. This Kahn fellow might not know FMLA from FM radio, but that doesn’t mean those laws don’t exist. ‘t someone severely is sick, with the flu or otherwise, or taking care of a severely ill immediate family member, they can’t be fired for missing time from work. Not legally. Employers also provide unpaid sick leave to many workers.
People do get sent home from work. Happens all the time. This might come as a shock to spaced out liberal arts professors, such as Kahn, but employers are not stupid. They don’t want their workforces all with the flu. So various steps are taken to help keep their workers healthy. Paid sick leave. Unpaid sick leave. Telecommuting. Temp. hires. You can’t run a business too well with your workforce all in the hospital. Duh.
Ultimately of course nothing will come of this proposal. Even Democrat state legislators are not dumb enough to mandate paid sick leave. Save perhaps for a few loopy states along the coasts. They don’t want their own constituents to be laid off or not hired in the first instance. Especially not with unemployment rates already as ghastly as they are at present.
Eating at a restaurant during flu season is like playing Russian Roulette because you know those workers can’t afford to stay home sick. They may get sent home if someone notices but they’ll do all they can to hide their illness if it means feeding their own family.
When companies like Papa John’s complains about providing health insurance to their employees I just envision people coughing all over my pizza and probably go down the street to my local pizza place where I can see them making it at least.
@Tsar Nicholas: Tsar is now on the “officially trolling because he’s a d**k”, and no longer merits any further response.
Do you really think that the local mom-and-pop restaurant is paying sick days to their relatives and workers? Also, if you want to really scare yourself, look up the health report for the local pizzeria. Of course, it is still probably cleaner than the local Chinese food restaurant.
I say where Yelp.com is thinking of linking or posting the health inspection reports of restaurants on its review website. I think that would be a more positive step in creating cleaner restaurants.
Most companies have quit rolling regular vacation over to the next year due to the tax implications for them of carrying it.
My husband’s company varies anywhere from 10 to 20 paid days off depeding on length of employment. They can be used for sick time or vacation and if an employee hasn’t used them by the end of the year, then they are required to take them or lose them (they used to be able to get paid for the unused days as a sort of bonus but the company doesn’t do it anymore-not sure if it was a violation of labor laws or a money saving move but a lot of people would save the days for the extra paycheck at the end of the year before they changed policy). Part time and full time employees all got some amount of paid time off.
I am not sure necessarily about mandating paid sick days, but they should at least mandate that legitimately needed sick time shouldn’t be grounds for firing.
At our company, vacation and sick time used to be separate. Your sick time was based on “ocurrences” and could be between 1 and 4 days I think… when you hit 5+ you were into short-term disability territory. You could have X number of occurences in a 12-month period before somebody had a little chat with you. After that, things started to escalate (written warning, etc).
Apparently, this incentivized folks to take ~3 days each time, even if they really needed 2 days.
So a while back, they got rid of sick time but boosted the amount of personal time off allowed (though “occurrences” for unplanned sick time were technically left intact. If you manager wants to be a hardass about that, they can. Mine, thankfully, have been very laid back about it). The way the math shakes out is that relatively young/healthy folks w/o kids did very well, and sickly folks & folks with kids (or both!) did not so well.
And, as Jen mentioned above, now you’re incentivizing folks to come to work when sick so they can save the PTO time for a vacation.
Incentives, incentives everywhere.
I’ve been fortunate to be mostly in jobs where I’ve been told, ‘If you’re sick, just don’t come in.’
In those jobs I’ve used less 2-3 sick days a year, if that many. My current job has ‘paid time off’ (vacation and sick time and personal days combined – with a max of 5 days banked). Essentially they added 5 days to your vacation days, and as they somewhat frown on any day ‘banking’ at all, if you’ve been well all year you get an extra week off at the end of the year.
With VPN I can work from home as needed so I don’t really even need sick days off unless I’m too sick to think.
What I have observed is in jobs with lower vacation days, lower pay, lower sick days. lower job satisfaction, people seem more likely to abuse the system in place to their advantage. (and to the disadvantage of their employer. (Though I’ve seen a few supposedly professional’s abuse any system to their advantage as well).
There seems to be a certain threshold (varying by individual) where people have enough vacation/sick/personal days that it no longer becomes large concern for the majority.
I should add that the old system not only incentivized folks to be out for longer than they might have needed to be (don’t blow an “occurrence” on a 1-day illness!), it also incentivized taking “sick” time when healthy. Hell, I’m pretty sure that I used an occurrence or two on hangovers…
The other thing my company does now is allow employees some unpaid time off (you “buy” vacation time – up to 6 days/yr). You can sell it back (in whole or in part) at year end if you don’t use it. So of course I buy 6 days/yr. The flexibility is nice.
Been a carpenter for almost 35 yrs, 20+ of them a union carpenter. Never had a day of paid sick leave my entire life. Don’t work? Don’t get paid. As I understand it, that is the way it works in the other trades.
Also, we don’t get any vacation. Instead, one dollar per hour is withheld from our checks and at the end of the year we get “vacation pay”. I don’t know anyone who actually uses it for a vacation. Some use it for their house or that thing they’ve been wanting. The gypsies among us (like me) usually put it into savings to help get thru the layoffs.
That’s too bad. Employers shouldn’t be able to deprive workers of their investments at the drop of a hat.
…and that sort of system can work too, as long as pay during work is enough to save up to cover a few sick days… AND … you don’t lose your job over being sick for a couple of days. Granted those are really big IF’s for jobs at the lower end of the pay scale.
That´s what I´m always trying to point out: health care is not a personal matter. It´s not a matter of personal benefit. It´s a matter of public policy and public safety. That´s a reason why the United States is a laughing stock among many foreigners.
You know, this is all well and good. I would seek restrictions on termination for documentable short term illnesses. However, I notice no one addresses the problem of employees taking sick days when they aren’t sick and what should be the consequences, such as firing given they’ve used up their days when healthy and then come to work sick because they misused their sick days.
But before everyone jumps on the bandwagon, you should consider the long term impact yet another government mandated increase in low-skill employee cost. Minimum wage+employer social security portion already has hourly wage right at $8/hr. Throw in Obamacare mandates, workers comp insurance, etc., employees are getting expensive.
And a long comes this guy who will work for 3 years, without sick days, vacation days, doesn’t go on strike, require health insurance, workers comp, even a personnel department and probably has a pretty good warranty, is easily retrainable. Oh and he works for $3.50/hr with not breaks or lunch hours. Downside, you do have to pay the bulk of his wages up front and provide him with all the energy he can draw.
Now, does that mean we just ignore benefits such as sick leave for human workers? No, but it does mean it isn’t simple and blind requirements will do more harm to those you think you are helping than good. So tread carefully lest gender studies graduates and, indeed, liberal arts graduates in general be tossed out of a job.
Meanwhile, this is how it gets done in normal, civilized countries:
Australia: Under the Federal Government’s industrial relations legislation (Fair Work) eligible employees are entitled to ten (10) days of paid personal leave (sick/carer’s leave) per year
Sweden: Sweden has paid sick leave. The first sick day is usually not paid. After that day 80% of the income is paid for 364 days and 75% for a further maximum 550 days. A medical doctor must certify the illness no later than one week after the first sick day. A parent of a less than 12 year old sick child can get paid leave to care for the child (termed “temporary parental leave”). In that case the first day is also paid. The state pays all these benefits, except for the first two weeks of sick leave for employees, which is paid by the employer.
Germany: In Germany, employers are legally required to provide at least six weeks of sick leave at full salary if the employee can present a medical certificate of being ill (which is issued on a standard form). After this six weeks, the employee receives about 70% of his last salary, paid by the statutory health insurance until he recovers or retires because of his health. Fathers and mothers rising a child younger than 12 years also have the right to paid leave if the child is sick.
Other countries: At least 145 countries provide paid sick days for short- or long-term illnesses, with 127 providing a week or more annually. 98 countries guarantee one month or more of paid sick days. Many high-income economies require employers to provide paid sick days upwards of 10 days, including: Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Singapore.
Really, American workers are willing to put up with a level of abuse that would be considered….well, abuse by workers in most other developed nations. We are increasingly a nation of serfs.
Our “investments” is a Union defined benefit pension. They way our contract is set up is that for every hour we work the employer give us $34.63 per hr in base wage (journeyman), $6.55 for health and welfare (health insurance, life ins., short term disability, etc), 70 cents/hr for training, and $6.75/hr for my pension.
As you can see, I am well compensated when I work. But I can lose my job if I get sick. I can lose my job if I get hurt, indeed I guarantee it if I can’t work because of the injury. If I file for Workmen’s Comp (say 2 or 3 times), I can make myself unemployable.
The thing is, in this industry most any employer goes thru times when he needs extra carpenters, laborers, electricians, etc for a few weeks, months or years. As such our contracts are structured so that it is easy to hire and then lay-off people. When I worked up in St Louis I worked for 4 different contractors, each for a period of yrs. Since I moved out here and started working out of the Rolla local I have worked for dozens of contractors and the longest period of time was for a year.
In this biz, one either produces, or not. If not, you are gone.
As an example, I came into my job one day and told the owner I was going to need a day off here and there over the next couple weeks because my mother was having open heart surgery and I was going to need to help take care of my Alzheimered father. I got my lay-off check that afternoon.
Safe to say, that heartless SOB never needed heart surgery.
I dunno, James-sounds like soshulism to me.
While should I limit my right to earn as much as I can merely because some of my co-workers may get sick because I come in? Those co workers and any customers I come into contact with should just suck it up. Time, chance, and sickness happen to us all.
@OzarkHillbilly: I assume that you have worked for small enough operations that FMLA doesn’t apply or some of your situations pre-date FMLA.
It doesn’t guarantee pay, but it does protect you from losing your job.
Might be helpful to review PolitiFact’s account of a past attempt to mandate sick leave for all. This could make an interesting issue in the 2014/2016 elections.
That was snark, actually. I’m completely in favor of paid sick leave as a legal requirement.
I work in a Caterpillar facility as a Mechanical Engineer. Everyone in the office gets the following:
Vacation (2-4 weeks depending on length of employment)
Personal Days (3 days to use per year for ANY reason)
Compelling Time (things like broken water heater, car repair – things you can’t get done outside of working hours)
Sick Time (CAT has salary continuation up to 2 months, then disability kicks in. This means you get 100% of your pay for up to 2 months. After 2 weeks, you have to fill out a form. There is no set limit on this time, although they can determine if someone is abusing the system)
Community Service (allows for occasional time here and there for obligations to service organizations. In my case, Little League Baseball)
I’d say CAT has a pretty good system, but this is the first year for our facility (CAT bought us a while back). We’ll see how it goes.
Where I work we don’t have paid sick time. We have unpaid personal days. If you have vacation time available you can use it to cover the day your sick and get paid. Vacation time does not roll over from one year to the next and is earned gradually at the beginning of each month. If you don’t use it by your aniversery date… you loose it. Even as salary if I miss a day of work being sick the amount of time I miss is deducted from my paycheck unless I use vacation time to cover it.
This is all so foreign to me. As a Canadian, maybe we just take it for granted. I don’t know. But I cannot understand how America, as a 1st world country, treats their citizens this way.
Back in the 80’s when I got my first part-time job in retail (while going to school), even then I was given a guaranteed 2 weeks off. We also received ‘vacation pay’ every year come the summer (June or July if memory serves me right). If you were sick, you were sick. Similar to every job I held since.
Both my parents (prior to retiring) each received 6 weeks vacation per year, so many sick days, so many personal days, and could build up ‘lieu time’. Same stands for most people I know.
When it comes to maternity leave, I think this one baffles me the most. In the 90’s when I had my children, I got 6 months maternity leave paid. Now, it is up to a year, and can split between both mom and dad, or one parent alone.
And as a side note – none of the places I worked were Union. This is just the general rules that apply to employment.
I grew up outside the US, and I’m similarly baffled. Even in terms of human compassion aside, the system we have here seems incredibly penny-wise and pound-foolish. The downsides of having one sick worker infect the rest of your workforce, or making a terrible mistake while working sick, should be so self-evident.
I just had a sick colleague come into my office, sit down, start hacking up a lung and then complain about the antibiotics not doing any good. (facepalm)
A good idea in theory, but to bring up an awkward question…
Who pays for the “paid” sick leave?
TANSTAAFL… for the money to end up in the worker’s pocket, it has to come out of someone else’s.
I work at a company where people can easily work from home, and where we have “unlimited” sick days, separate from our vacation days. What does “unlimited” mean? Who knows, it’s not well documented.
And people still come in coughing up a lung because they think they are more important than everyone else. Bastards.
I’ve taken sick days or worked from home several times when I’m perfectly healthy and just don’t want to be in the same room as my horribly ill and contagious boss.
@pcbedamned: How on Earth do those companies manage to stay in business?!?! Are you telling me that American corporations might be lying about how providing reasonable benefits would put them out of business?
I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked!
Why not just get the government to give a straight tax deduction for pay lost due to sickness ? Many small businesses can’ t afford yet another federal regulation or mandate in addition to the Obama care train wreck. I don’ t know if this Columbia professor has ever ran his own business or not. I would like to hear some opinions from small business owners about this.
I own a chain of restaurants. There are 10 people waiting to fill every open job around here in SW Florida. Remind me why I shouldn’t listen to Jenos and $wap out the unhealthy?
@rudderpedals: I didn’t offer any advice, I just asked a simple question. It shouldn’t be that tough a question.
I see three possible answers:
1) The employer — whose cost of labor just went up.
2) The employee– by a corresponding wage cut.
3) The government — meaning, all of us — through some kind of tax.
What you do in your situation, rudder, is your decision.
That may not be true for much longer.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Eventually, anyone who purchases the products of the company, even if the company is a supplier rather than a retailer.
The mass confusion in this country is the only people who have any money are The People. The rest, taxes that fund the government, corporate revenues, non-profit funding, etc. all comes from the people. The productive people to be precise. The rest, including government benefits is just private individuals money flowing in the system. Some feel they can dip into these streams at will but, in reality, they are taking from individuals at some point.
Such as, increased employee compensation comes from either laid off employees or employees never hired to the benefit of the few that remain. In the long term, the costs are come from price increases on those who use the goods and services produced. Now, before someone yells, corporate profits, that money belongs to the shareholders or via their pension plan owning share, those who’ve invested for retirement. In any case, eventually you get to an individual who pays, either through higher prices, loss employment, reduced retirement savings, reduced return on investment, etc.
You can salve yourself by saying you are taking from corporations or the government or fat cats on wall street, but in the end, you are taking from individuals. And the individuals most unable to bear the taking or protect themselves from the taking is the very people most are arguing should be given “paid sick leave”.
On the upside, should, yet another increase in employee cost be mandated, after a period of disruption where companies close, employees are displaced, investment allocations are adjusted, etc., it’ll all settle down with those that can find work having the benefit whereas others will either have outdated skills, low starting skills, etc. will be left out as they are replaced by Baxter, the robot.
4) Consumers, via higher prices.
Other than that, yeah. Someone does indeed have to pay for it. I’d go with #4 as the most likely.
One benefit to mandating something is that a business that would like to offer such a thing isn’t put at a competitive disadvantage. Joe’s Burgers offers paid sick leave but Bob’s doesn’t. Bob’s is cheaper, or has a higher profit margin (assuming the burgers are equal of course!). That puts pressure on Joe to not offer the sick leave. Maybe Joe does it anyway, because he doesn’t want his workforce sneezing on the food.
@Rob in CT: Thank you, Rob and JKB — that one slipped my mind, and it should not have. Maybe it falls under the employer, who simply passes on the cost — but that’s rationalizing.
But this is another case where “we’ll save money in the long run” argument, when the costs are clear but the benefits are abstract.
@ Ben Wolf
I am thinking Tsar, JKB, & Jenos all fall into the “utter waste of time not meriting a response” category.
@ Just Me
This is a very Republican approach – do you have a problem with it?
@Jenos Idanian #13: The reality on the ground is that the ill worker pays the price. Ten people a day are calling looking for work. TANSTAAFL. If you catch a cold eating that lunch, well so what, Upton Sinclair put the bullet into the fantasy about the market driving out purveyors of bad stuff.
@anjin-san: Sorry my question of “who pays for the paid time off” harshed your mellow. Ain’t reality a bummer, dude?
Maybe we can pay for it with a trillion-dollar platinum coin. Or unicorn farts. Or righteous outrage.
When I was working retail in college that’s exactly the way it worked for me. No sick days, 3 call-ins allowed every six months, write-ups beyond that. I think part-time employees had to wait a year for insurance, and definitely had to wait a year for any vacation (if you worked 3 days a week, you got 3 days a year of vacation, for example).
The sad thing is that the only difference between when I was doing that and the millions living like that right now is that minimum wage is $7.25 now.
So clearly you are against mandated sick time. Ok. What is the solution? Are you content with a framework that forces the impoverished minimum-wage workers in society to come to work even when they are sick? I guess a lot of Republicans would say that the workers deserve no consideration. After all, it’s not the taxpayers fault that they were stupid to get a real job, right?
Kind of ironic how many conservatives constantly rail against the poor using food stamps and welfare and suggest they work harder and at the same time, when these people ARE doing what they can to get by, you throw them out in the cold and deny them every possible aid or advantage you can think of.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
See my post at 10:15 AM above, which shows how other countries manage it through a variety of different options. In Sweden, for example, the government pays all sick benefits, except for the first two weeks of sick leave, which is paid by the employer. In Germany, the employer pays the first six weeks; after that, the employee goes on 70% pay which comes out of statutory health insurance. Most countries manage it with some combination of having the employer and the state pay.
@aFloridian: So clearly you are against mandated sick time.
So, asking a question means I’m automatically against it?
Nice non-answer — jump to a conclusion (polite version for “make up some shit”), then rant and rave in response to something I never said. Meanwhile, the original question gets left in the dust, unaddressed.
If I may, I’ll jump to my own conclusion as to your answer — “Who pays? Not me, that’s for damned sure!” As long as you don’t have to pay for it, you think it’s just fine and dandy. You selfish, greedy, egotistical bastard. How DARE you be snotty to anyone else, with that kind of an attitude!
Well, that was a pointless exercise in vitriol… but you refused to give me anything else to respond to.
I really do not know. I am so used to people getting laid off for performance issues or myself for end of job issues that it never even occurred to me that I could not be let go for medical reasons. I suspect that if I tried to make an issue of it they would find another reason.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
I asked some questions too. Calling me names doesn’t change the fact that you dodged my questions just as as much as I dodged yours.
The only difference is, I’m several people here have already made reasonable suggestions about where we’d start our such to fund such an initiative. With a bit of effort some very reasonable proposals could be brought forth. You, on the other hand, have done nothing but be a naysayer.
FMLA isn’t really a good solution to people having a short term illness and needing to miss a day or two. Also, many people don’t even know it exists.
Look, the simple fact is that most every other developed, advanced country on Earth manages to provide generous mandated paid sick leave for employees. And yet those countries have not seen their economies suffer because of it; in fact, many of them are thriving.
Plainly, and again, paid sick leave (like paid maternity/paternity leave, paid vacations, paid college, guaranteed medical care, etc.) is just one of those things that America, unlike most every other similar country, seems to be unable to do.
Once we tried to lead the field — now we’re content to trail at the back of the pack, all in the name of “competitiveness.”
@Rafer Janders: Once we tried to lead the field — now we’re content to trail at the back of the pack, all in the name of
@ Rafer Janders
Yes, but you are missing the core message of the conservative movement in the 21st century -“America can’t get it done”…
That really is it, isn’t it? High-speed rail? Can’t do it! Guaranteed health care? Can’t do it! Infrastructure improvements? Can’t do it! Gun control? Can’t do it! It’s all too difficult/hard/expensive/ etc. etc.
Despite a wealth of evidence from all other countries that they somehow manage to do it. But when it comes to America, the message from conservatives is no, we can’t.
@aFloridian: When I worked, I would have to be in the hospital before I would stay out, sick or not. Other people depended on my being there and it was a hassle returning to work. It’ s called “work ethic”.
At the moment, I’ve got some really nasty bug I picked up in Scottsdale last week. Feel like death warmed over, coughing up some interesting stuff.
Nowadays, I am in a position where I have a great deal of control over my schedule. So I’ve been in bed for three days and am putting in a few hours on critical things on my laptop, but otherwise resting.
Back in my bar & restaurant days, there were a lot of times I tried to call in sick in similar circumstances, but was told “I don’t care how you feel, we need you to work your shift.” So I would guzzle some Thera Flu and share my germs with the public. The tea party dream for America…
Actually, its called “stupid”
No one wants to share your germs when you are sick, and bringing a cold or flu into the workplace can easily have a negative impact on overall productivity.
@ Rafer Janders
Yep, that is it. Its much easier to spout about American exceptionalism and slap a “USA #1” sticker on the ol’ pickup than to roll up your sleeves and make the commitments and do the hard work that actually goes into being great.
Yeah, compare that to the notoriously lazy, work-averse Germans or Japanese with their paid sick leave….
@Tyrell: So you show up in a hospital with a communicatible disease and go to work among a whole bunch of sick patients, who already have stressed immune systems.
Are you absolutely insane?!! I would consider that grounds for manslaughter if anyone died of whatever you brought in!
@Rafer Janders: Agreed. The Japanese have a word “karoshi” which literally means to work yourself to death because it’s so common. The work ethic is part of their culture, it has nothing to do with whether they get paid sick leave or not; some of them just ignore their health, period. Meaning, Americans’ work ethic won’t change (for good or for bad) if the government mandated sick leave.
@grumpy realist: (he’s not saying he *works* at a hospital)
AMERICA IS THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!!!! (except for all those countries that can do all those things we can’t)
@Jenos Idanian #13: “So, asking a question means I’m automatically against it? ”
No, because actually taking a side risks failing to piss off those who agree with you.
Besides, if you take a side, you have to know something to back it up. And that means spending those precious seconds on “research,” like you did with guns. Seconds that could be spent pretending that you care about other human beings.
At least JKB, the idiot Tsar and SuperDope actually seem to believe in what they post. They may be crazy or stupid, but they care.
You only care about annoying as many people as you can.
What a sad little man you must be.
@Tyrell: Than you must have had a really boring and repetitive job that requried absolutely no cognitive effort. I know that if I come into the office in bad shape (high fever, aches, vomiting, chills, dizzy, no attenion span — choose 3 or more symptons), my boss will look at me and say:
“Dave, you get paid to think and solve problems — you can’t do that today, so go to the Rite Aid, get yourself some good drugs and go home/go to the doctor before you get the rest of the division sick… you’ve proven that you are not a slacker, now keep everyone else healthy….”
@anjin-san: “Yep, that is it. Its much easier to spout about American exceptionalism and slap a “USA #1″ sticker on the ol’ pickup than to roll up your sleeves and make the commitments and do the hard work that actually goes into being great. ”
I used to think this was the case with the Republicans, but now I think that’s just another mask. Read JKB’s comments on this forum for their thinking. He’s not concerned that this might be hard, but that ultimately someone might have to pay for it. And of course the people who should pay for it are the employers. But the notion of anything cutting into record corporate profits — whether that’s sick leave or just paying a decent wage — is unthinkable to these people. All money must go to the only ones who deserve it — the owners.
Oh, then they try to cover by claiming it’s really about lil ol Granny who owns two share of Ma Bell and will be out on the street if their profits dip a nickel. But really it’s about making sure that the entire pie goes to a handful of owners…
@Rafer Janders: That really is it, isn’t it? High-speed rail? Can’t do it! Guaranteed health care? Can’t do it! Infrastructure improvements? Can’t do it! Gun control? Can’t do it! It’s all too difficult/hard/expensive/ etc. etc.
High speed rail? Stupid and pointless in the US.
Guaranteed health care? Got it already. ObamaCare is MANDATED health Insurance, costing a shitload of money and won’t work. Stupid and pointless.
Infrastructure improvements? Doing that already.
Gun control? To me, that means “hitting your target.”
Not pointless at all. Costing a sh*tload of money remains to be seen (RWers assert this loudly, but I’m not so sure).
Granted, medicare for all would’ve been better. 🙂
In much of the US. Not all. In areas that match Euro levels of density (NE corridor), it’s different. But I’m with you on it being silly just about everywhere else in the US.
Obviously one can differ on whether enough is being done. Especially if one is concerned about remaining competitive in a global economy…
I think we can probably agree that a lot of what is being done was paid for by gasp… the stimulus
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Sigh. No, we just established that that’s not true on the other thread.
As an example, if your pregnancy is killing you, Republicans want to guarantee that you don’t have access to the care you need. In many places in the country, they have pretty much succeeded at achieving that.
@swbarnes2: As an example, if your pregnancy is killing you, Republicans want to guarantee that you don’t have access to the care you need.
I’m not going to get hauled off on an abortion argument, but you prove yourself full of crap with your own words. If “Republicans want to guarantee” something doesn’t happen, then by definition it isn’t that way already.
Now… back on topic… looking to see how many arguments about who pays for the “paid sick leave” question…
Nope, no arguments about that. Still at the “it’s such an awesome idea, even asking questions is HERESY!!!!!!!” stage.
@swbarnes2: “As an example, if your pregnancy is killing you, Republicans want to guarantee that you don’t have access to the care you need.”
Well, you should have thought of that before you decided to be a slut.
This message brought to you by your friends in the Republican Party.
I simply pointed out, that who pays is not some corporation but some individual or individuals. I also pointed out that those individuals (owners) now have other options than simply moving their operation to a low cost labor area. They can do away with employees and all the government burden that comes with them and it costs less to boot even before you add up the savings from regulatory compliance, employment tax accounting, mandated insurance, training and reliability vagaries, etc.
If you are serious about his issue, then you must find away to balance all the impacts otherwise all you’ll do is put low-wage workers out of a job. But then the Left cares little for the impact of their “ideas” on actual human beings. Only that they can feel good about themselves for thinking them.
@Rob in CT:
Actually, that’s a bit of a myth and not supported by the actual numbers. We match Euro levels of density in far more areas of the US than just the NE corridor, including Florida, parts of the Midwest, southern California, and the Pacific Northwest.
Compare, for example, Florida, with a population density of 134.6 per square kilometer, with France, which has a density of 118.82.
Yes, that’s right. France has less population density than Florida — and yet France can have high-speed rail, and Florida can’t. And keep in mind that Florida is only the 8th most ranked state in terms of population density.
@JKB: Yes, all “left-wing” ideas must be carefully balanced and weighed so that before anything can be done, everyone gets completely paralyzed.
Funny how that’s never the case with cutting taxes for rich people… or invading countries that didn’t attack us… or passing laws to keep minorities from voting. Nope, no need for analysis there, just jump right in and let Freedom reign!
@Rafer Janders: Here’s the problem: the American people have had about a century to get used to the idea of the freedom of movement imparted by private automobile ownership. With rail — high-speed, low-speed, medium-speed, whatever — you are limited to where you can go, when you can go there, and when you can come back. Also, what you can bring is pretty much limited to what you can carry.
For example, I live about a 2-hour drive from a major metropolis. Should I choose to play tourist, I can go when I like, stay as long as I like, and come back when I like. If I should choose to buy some things in the city, I am limited to what I can carry back to my car. And I can make multiple trips to my car, should I choose to, say, pick up a dozen bowling balls.
A lot of Americans subconsciously associate “mass transit” with “control.” And we don’t like being controlled.
On the other hand, those who push for such things are very much about “control.” They also tend to support “gun control,” they back “insurance control,” they like Bloomberg’s “food control,” and so on.
@JKB: If high-paid employees are such a drag on the economy, how come countries like Germany, Sweden, and Norway are doing so well?
There’s one thing you have completely forgotten: why should employees work any harder when the result goes 95% towards the benefit of their employer, and only 5% into their own paycheck? You rightists squawk all the time about the damping effect of higher taxes, but none of you has ever said a word about the increasing mouthfuls CEOs have been taking when any cost-cutting benefits come through….
(As an example: only a few months before Hostess went down under, the CEO got a huge raise in salary.)
@Jenos Idanian #13: You’ve also got the damn problem of where to park the damn car….
There’s a very good reason why I didn’t have a car my 10 years in Japan: I didn’t need one!
@grumpy realist: Also true. But I don’t like it when people “help” me avoid a problem by denying me my choice.
In my experience, a lot of Americans don’t like that, either.
@grumpy realist: (
A thumbs up for truth telling.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
How is this any different than an airplane?
American seem perfectly used to flying around on airplanes, and yet with an airline you’re limited to where you can go, when you can go there, and when you can come back, and what you can bring is EVEN MORE restricted than it is on a train. And no one makes you take off your shoes or get X-rayed to walk onto a train.
Then why do they fly everywhere?
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Balls. Americans love being controlled. They’re willing to put up with pointless security theatre and petty controls and restrictions from the police, government and business that would have Europeans out in the streets in pitched street battles if anyone tried it on them. “Get along to go along” is practically the national motto.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Who’s trying to stop you? Drive your car and mazel tov.
If I’m in Berlin, I can choose to drive to Hamburg, which will take me anywhere from 3-5 hours, traffic depending. Or I can take the high-speed train and be there in a guaranteed 1.5 hours. No one is forcing me to take one or the other.
I don’t know why sitting in traffic an extra 2 hours each way makes me any freer, but then again, I’m not crazy.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
So it would be fair to describe you as pro-choice?
@Jenos Idanian #13: Clearly, this is why air travel will never succeed in the USA.
Absolutely. Sure, you could fly from New York to Los Angeles in about six hours flight time if you want to be a slave. But what American is going to put up with that? That’s why everyone takes 3-4 days and drives it instead.
Funny, I take the train to SF frequently. I go where I want, when I want. It works pretty darned well.
I tried to take the train from San Diego to San Francisco one time. It took 2 days and to add insult to injury, it wasn’t even going to SF, but instead Oakland then a bus into SF. Cost more than flying as well. I had the time but instead flew for a few hours and had a nice dinner at the hotel.
Thanks for providing such a good example of the need for high speed trains. But of course this is tea party America, and we can’t have what almost every other advanced nation has.
I take the BART train to SF. The station is 10 minutes from my house, and I am at the Embarcadero Station in 20 minutes.
I’m in that one lone state, Connecticut. Haven’t taken any sick days yet, and don’t intend to unless I need to. I’m able to work from home when necessary, so it makes things nice when I’m not feeling well, but am not sick enough to just stay in bed.
I used the NE corridor as an example, not meaning to be all-inclusive. I almost added “parts of Cali, and maybe Florida.” That said, given that the cost of US infrastructure is shockingly high in comparison to even wealthy Euro countries (I would love to really break down why that is), I’d err on the side of caution.
@Rob in CT:
Actually, the US is often as densely populated as Europe is, if we look to those parts of the US where people actually live, i.e the coasts and the areas between major cities. US figures tend to get skewed because we include figures for the Great Plains and the western deserts, but since no one really lives there, it throws off the average. Over 50% of the US population lives in only 20% of the US land area (excluding Alaska).
Sure. but that’s a separate question and a separate issue. There’s nothing inherent or intrinsic causing US infrastructure costs to be higher than Europe; it’s just another symptom of how we’re mismanaging our country and economy. Otherwise we get into a circular “we can’t improve our infrastructure because we do a poor job with our infrastructure” argument.
@Rob in CT:
In some parts of Europe, the contractors who build the highways are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of what they build for 7 years. Consequently, they build them pretty darn well, because they don’t want to do a crummy job and then have to keep paying for repairs. I would love to see that in the US.
You’d love to see private businesses held to account for the quality of their work product by the government? In America? Hah!
Megan McCardle has a pretty good post by a French friend on how America is becoming like France and it’s a bad thing. He discusses the job killing regulation thresholds that make it hard for marginal workers and are being instituted full speed with Obamacare.
Now, I know some here don’t like Megan but try on your big boy pants today and read the post. Dig deep where you might find some critical thinking and consider the points in the post.
Most companies and organizations I’ve worked for have sensible sick leave policies.
The fact is, workplace psychology has tilted quite far to the advantage employers these days. I can’t tell you how many managers and professionals that I know or work with who will do anything to avoid taking time off – vacation or sick leave. The underlying pretext or reason is that they’re afraid to take time off because of job insecurity. I know people – in Silicon Valley – who were released upon returning to work after taking a vacation leave. The workplace is very very competitive.
Considering the juvenile things you’ve posted here, you would be a really good boy if you could follow your own advice…
@JKB: considering that Ms. pink-himalayan salt hasn’t even shown understanding of the laws of mathematics, I think I’ll pass…
@Jenos Idanian #13:
A lot of Americans are too paranoid. Funny, I’ve never felt controlled when I’ve taken the commute Ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, or Larkspur to San Francisco, nor when I’ve take BART from Rockridge in Oakland to San Francisco.
If you prefer drive into a big city, and pay big city parking rates, by all means do so – unchain your inner controlled self.
@JKB: I read up to the point where he whines that allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance keeps them from growing up, because apparently having access to otherwise impossibly expensive health care means they never get that jolt of responsibilty that comes only from discovering you have cancer and no way to treat it. That level of stupidity could only come from a libertarian. Thanks for sharing, though. It’s good to know there are sociopathic morons in all countries.
@Ben Wolf: I thought he had some accurate views on this.
This really is an amazing statement, isn’t it?
Taking the train or a bus is “being controlled?” What the F*ck?
That is a very strange thing for a guy to say to other guys. Posting in anonymity has its virtues – I really do not want to know what your deal is.
On the sick leave question, one way to promote it is for people not to take sick leave to go to the beach. Which many do.