Sick And All Alone In The World

Via Ezra Klein, we have this chart from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which shows the disparity between guaranteed paid sick leave in the U.S. and the rest of the world:


As Klein put it, “The light blue line measures paid sick days. This is what you use if you need to take three days off because you have a fever. The dark blue line is paid sick leave. This is what you use if you need to take three months off because you have cancer. Every other country on the list offers at least one. Most offer both. The United States is alone in guaranteeing neither.”

Yesterday, the Healthy Families Act was reintroduced in Congress, after going “nowhere during the presidency of George W. Bush.” The bill — introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) — “would guarantee employees one paid hour off for each 30 hours worked, enabling them to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.” Employees could also use their time to care for a sick family member.

Lost productivity due to sick workers attending work and infecting other employees costs the U.S. economy $180 billion annually. For employers, the cost averages “$255 per employee per year and exceeds the cost of absenteeism and medical and disability benefits.” Providing sick days can also help cut down on the spread of infectious disease. And then there’s the simple moral argument against forcing ill workers to choose between their health and their paycheck.

As a Senator and during the presidential campaign, President Obama supported the Healthy Families Act. So will it fare better this time?


James Kwak has more.

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