Why Everyone Should Have Paid Sick Leave

This past week, my husband was very sick. It got so bad on Wednesday that I had to call out of work and take him to the emergency room. Unfortunately, he’s still sick (not dying or anything) and now he gets to go to lots of doctors to see what’s wrong. Illness is never fun.

Despite the stress of having a sick husband for a few days, we are both very lucky to not have to worry about work. We both have very lenient sick time policies that allow for flexibility when needed. I get 15 sick days a year, two weeks vacation, and three personal days. My husband has unlimited sick days (with the caveat that he should work from home whenever possible) and 15 days vacation. As you can tell, we don’t run into the issue that many people do where they have to choose between staying home sick or getting paid to go to work. I’m thankful for that. Very thankful!

This is what most people think sick leave is used for, but it's not!

This is what most people think sick leave is used for, but it’s not!

This past week, though, made me realize that everyone should have paid sick time. Many of my friends don’t have this luxury and I see the stress that it causes. Here are a few reasons how having paid sick time can actually help your business (if you can afford it), not hinder it.

Employees may actually be more productive. Knowing that I have sick leave doesn’t hurt my productivity. I also don’t know anyone who takes advantage of having it, which people cite as a common concern. On the contrary. Most people in my office are more productive as they know they will soon have a few days off here and there if needed. They remember that they have a vacation coming up, or even just a long weekend, and so they get their work done on time. While this may not be the case for everyone, most of my colleagues utilize their paid leave only during emergencies and to schedule short breaks in between their busy working periods. In the end, this causes them to be more productive because they’re not overworked and have the benefit of knowing they can take time off when needed.

It lowers employee stress. This is huge! Many people work paycheck to paycheck and when an illness strikes (even if it’s just the flu), they have continual stress about what to do. They can’t take off because they need the money, but it’s hard to work because they’re so sick. This creates a cycle of anxiety that can impact an employee’s ability to complete their work and their general well-being. By giving a buffer and including paid time off, you are easing the tension when illness or an emergency may strike.

It’s another step towards equality. Paid leave is another way we can start bridging the equality gap. It shouldn’t just be people who can “afford” to take off. Everyone should be entitled to at least a few days they can use here or there because let’s face it, no one goes through life without some type of emergency happening. Giving everyone the right to a few well-earned days off is one step towards a little more equality everywhere.

Now, it’s your turn. Do you think we should give everyone paid time off or is it a financial burden on smaller businesses?

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