America’s Employer-Friendly Labor Market Conditions Imperil Public Health

The Centers for Disease Control sensibly suggests that in these times of swine flu, if you get sick you should stay home rather than spread the disease to your coworkers:

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Which is nice for those people whose employers provide them with paid sick days. But as Pat Garofalo points out not that many people have employers who provide them with paid sick days:

Currently, nearly 50 percent of private-sector workers have no paid sick days. For low-income workers, the number jumps to 76 percent, and climbs to 86 percent for food service workers. These workers have to decide between the health of themselves and their co-workers, and the wages that they lose by staying home.


In other words, on any given day a large proportion of sick food service workers are going to find themselves unable to afford to take the day off, endangering the health of everyone else. This bill from Ted Kennedy and Rosa DeLauro would “guarantee workers up to seven paid sick days a year to recover from an illness or care for a sick family member.”