"Achoo," too bad for you: The politics of paid sick leave

Do you offer your employees paid sick leave or some sort of paid time off (PTO) bank? If not, the debate over paid sick days now unfolding in Washington, state capitals (like Connecticut and Massachusetts) and cities (like Philadelphia and New York City) could change all that.
Advocates of mandatory paid sick leave say it’s a critical benefit that builds good will and loyalty among employees, while eliminating the stress of missing a day’s pay when you’re under the weather. There’s also the health aspect: Sick workers who are experiencing fever or a nagging cough are highly contagious and as such, unnecessarily expose coworkers and customers to their germs. Obviously, the risk is that much greater for service workers who have contact with the public, including restaurant workers, school bus drivers, home health aides and janitors.
But opponents claim this is the last thing strained businesses need during these difficult economic times – that many employers would be forced to offset the cost of such a benefit by cutting positions, hours or other benefits.
Regarding the proposed Healthy Families Act in Washington, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has expressed its opposition, stating:

"A paid sick leave mandate as outlined in the Healthy Families Act would limit an employer's flexibility in designing a benefits package that meets the needs of their unique workforce, resulting in significant costs for employers as well as a potential loss to employees who prefer other benefits rather than paid sick leave."
But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. Businesses that already offer sick pay --  84% for management, professional and related occupations, and 42% for service workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics --  are able to manage costs by:
=> Requiring employees to have been employed for a certain length of time before they are eligible to earn sick leave
=>Accruing sick leave at a certain rate per month or per the number of hours worked
=>Limiting the total hours employees can accrue each year

So what do you think? If you already offer paid sick leave, how do you keep the costs in line? And if you’re not a paid sick leave provider, what are your biggest concerns?


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