New Law Proposed to Require Companies to Pay Employees for Sick Leave

Wed, Nov 11, 2009

Health Care, Waste, Workplace

While we’re all about showing respect to co-workers by staying home when you’re sick, and we think it’s a good idea for companies to consider to allot paid sick days to workers so that they can (a) get better more quickly and work more effectively by not trying to work while sick and (b) not infect others, we think there’s danger with this:

U.S. employers who tell workers to stay home when they are sick will have to give them paid time off for up to five days under new federal legislation proposed on Tuesday.

Is this a good idea?  Let’s look at the incentives.

First thing that really jumps out is that you’re now incentivizing businesses to NOT tell workers to stay home when they’re sick!

Next thing that jumps out is that if companies somehow overcome this incentive to not send sick workers home but are going to be forced to pay for all non-work from sick employees, guess which kinds of people aren’t going to be able to find work?  Right.  Those more prone to sickness, i.e. the weak and poor.

Just another example of how a government program will hurt the very people it purports to help.

By requiring payment for sick leave, you introduce discrimination against the weak and incentives to invite more illness into the workplace.  Let the market work this out, not bureaucratic central planners.  Employers know they have to strike a balance with their employees, their workplace, their customers, etc.  By mandating a certain, somewhat arbitrary course of behavior that the people involved have not contracted, the government creates perverse incentives that really do nothing to remedy the underlying concerns.

Also, if you’re not careful, you’ll get people faking illness (claiming they have symptoms that they don’t), or not taking precautions against exposing themselves to illness.  If you know you’ll lose pay if you get sick, you take precautions to avoid illness.  However, if you know that if you’re sick you’ll get paid anyway and can sit at home and watch TV, you’ll be less inclined to take close care of your health.  Think not?  Then you don’t understand people and their economic calculations.

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2 Responses to “New Law Proposed to Require Companies to Pay Employees for Sick Leave”

  1. Richard Foster Says:

    We definitely have to keep fighting these issues as they arise! However, I do not believe that health care is the “real” issue that the Obama Administration is “hell bent” on passing. I don’t even think it is the Stimulus Package, the War in Afghanistan, the closing of Gitmo or the KSM trial. I believe that the real agenda of the Obama Administration is to pass some kind of Cap & Trade bill. The underlying reason for the passage of a Cap & Trade bill is to give the Obama Administration an important link to the world economy that they desperately want.

    The Obama Administration is a master of political campaign and any time they are outside this mode, they fail! As a result, they are continuing in the campaign mode and they understand that the first rule in passing an unpopular agenda is to propose an agenda even worse than the unpopular agenda! Cap & Trade is that unpopular culprit! The strategy they are using to pass the Cap & Trade agenda is to keep introducing issues that are even worse than Cap & Trade, in the hope that they will finally be able to pass the Cap & Trade agenda. At first, the stimulus package was introduced to take the pressure off of Cap & Trade, but Cap & Trade stayed in the public mind.

    Next health care was introduced. But Cap & Trade continued as a public issue. Then came the War in Afghanistan, the closing of Gitmo, the stateside trial of KSM and more. All have diverted the national attention from Cap & Trade but it has not been enough to get Cap & Trade off the public radar screen! So, what is next? Who knows? But it will come to the national attention and sooner or later the Obama Administration will be able to pass a Cap & Trade bill! Once the Cap & Trade bill is finally passed, the Obama Administration will start to “see the light” and they will start to back away from these other issues! The problem will be that the Cap & Trade damage to the economy will be done and Obama will be ready to move to the world stage to enforce it!

  2. Hudson Says:

    I am concerned about the Proposed Healthcare Plan. Will it create costly effects to my loved ones standard of living? Will the positives overshadow the cons?