Sick Leave and Infection

I stumbled across this interesting post about San Francisco’s recent paid sick leave bill:

* Anecdotally, paid sick leave is a good idea. Flocks told story after story of workers who were forced to go to work sick. She told of a server at the Cheesecake Factory whose boss told her that she would be fired if she didn’t show up for work, despite the fact that she had pinkeye. So the boss “allowed” the sever to wear sunglasses.(Call me crazy, but I don’t like people with pinkeye touching my food.) In another example, a woman who was pregnant and hemorrhaging lost her job because her boss told her that if she didn’t come to work she’d get fired.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who was on the panel, gave what was perhaps the scariest example, telling of a hotel worker in Nevada who went to work sick and infected 600 hotel guests. “It’s not only a moral issue but a social issue,” she said….

According to Flocks, the cost of paid sick leave is minimal, especially considering that not having sick workers in the workplace boosts productivity and prevents the spread of disease. The biggest concern of small business owners that YWU spoke with was how to keep track of the days, not the actual cost of workers not working when they were sick. She said that a lot of businesses wanted to provide paid sick leave, but didn’t provide it because their competitors didn’t. “We’re leveling the playing field,” she said.

Personally, it always bugs me when someone ‘heroically’ staggers into work and then infects everyone else. Interesting, these initiatives are opposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation for the following reasons:

1. Some workers have used FMLA to excuse tardiness and to skip work.
2. Co-workers face the burden of covering for shirking employees who misuse their leave.
3. Customers suffer unpredictable delays and shortcomings in service.

Of course, in keeping with the high standards of integrity associated with movement conservatism, the Heritage Foundation…offers…paid…sick…leave…

I always knew they were “shirking.”

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6 Responses to Sick Leave and Infection

  1. Fomite says:

    Well, on one hand, if it weren’t for foodworkers crawling into their jobs, I wouldn’t have nearly as much to do at the office. Then again, the advent of a paid sick leave statute might give me more goof time on ScienceBlogs. Such is the work of an epi who deals in foodborne illnesses.
    We had a norovirus outbreak at two restaurants last year. One employee was working at both places. Loads of people sick. We’ll be presenting it at APHA.

  2. Jim Thomerson says:

    Are the people at the heritage foundation saying, “This is how we, and our kind, will react.”?

  3. Jessika says:

    Both points one and two of the Heritage Foundation are personnel issues really. So out of, say 10 employees, you have one person who is always calling in sick on a Monday or when they have a lot of work. That’s when you discipline them, or even fire them. Don’t punish everyone, the customer included by making them sick also, because of just a few idiot workers.

  4. phisrow says:

    Wow, I’m surprised that the heritage foundation didn’t just come out and say directly that anybody who doesn’t already have paid sick leave is probably a lazy, shirking, degenerate scumbag.
    Sick leave seems like such an easy sell. After all, who would want sick people coughing on their food?

  5. clear as mud says:

    You know, as little as people know about science in general, in some ways they know even less about public health/epidemiology. Which is ironic because the basics of public health are a bit easier to understand than quantum physics.
    But since no one knows anything about it, you get pathetic responses like that one from the Heritage foundation.

  6. ecoli says:

    on the other hand, how can you justify to an employer (especially a small business owner, for example) to pay someone sick leave for a worker who just has the sniffles, and no real risk for infection.
    I see a lot of potential for employee abuse.

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