|Image by Christian Tae, 11, Clifton, VA
While the ruling elite ratchet up their assault on unions and worker benefits, a new study just came out indicating that mandatory paid sick days benefit workers and bosses. San Francisco passed a Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (PSLO) in 2006 (approved by 61% of voters), the first such law in the country. Under the law, workers in small businesses can earn five paid sick days per year, while those in larger businesses can earn up to nine.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research issued a report on the ordinance, San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: Outcomes for Employers and Employees, in which 1,200 employees and more than 700 employers were surveyed. The report showed that there was virtually no impact on the businesses, while there were huge benefits for employees. Two-thirds of the employers surveyed said they now support the PSLO. Virtually none saw any decline in profits and two-thirds said they had no difficulties with implementation of the law.
Contrary to the paranoid rants of bosses, workers do not generally abuse paid sick leave. In the San Francisco study, workers tended to use sick days only when they were really needed, with a median usage of just three days per year, despite having the right to as many as nine days, while 25% of workers did not using any of their sick days.
An employer benefit of paid sick leave is that workers use it to actually take care of their illnesses, before they become serious or life threatening, thus reducing the amount of time away from work. Every day that workers stay home, even without compensation, employers lose productivity and profits.
Despite the benefits of the law, enforcement has been lax, with somewhere between 25% and one-third of San Francisco employers refusing to comply with the law. Some are failing to provide the paid time off. Others are demanding documentation beyond what is required by the law, thus intimidating and bullying employees out of using the benefit. Even so, San Francisco workers are lucky. Most workers do not belong to unions, which fight for basic workplace rights like paid sick leave, or live in liberal cities like San Francisco, where voters support the rights of workers. Only 60% of private-sector workers have paid sick days. Of those who do, millions are not allowed to use the sick leave to care for sick children or family members.