Sick days not an option for some

DALLAS -- If this season's widespread flu outbreak has hit you, you should stay home to rest and avoid spreading it to others.   But, for those who don't have paid sick days or any job-protected leave, that might not be an option.

According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released last March, only 72 percent of workers in this country had paid sick leave from their employer. Only 61 percent of those employed by smaller businesses (up to 99 employees) had it, and just 46 percent of those earning an average salary that ranked in the bottom-quarter of all wage-earners get it.

While the federal Family And Medical Leave Act protects people from losing their jobs while taking extended time off, there are eligibility restrictions, like the business needing to employ at least 50 people and the employee needing to have worked there for at least 12 months. The time off is both unpaid and meant for long-term issues like cancer treatments, not a short absence to recover from the flu.

While a proposal named the Healthy Families Act is trying to make its way through Congress to mandate short-term sick-leave coverage for all employees in companies of all sizes, nine states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington) and 32 other jurisdictions, as well as individual businesses like Starbucks, have approved their own laws and policies.  Texas is not one of them, but here's hoping it will be soon!

To learn more from the National Partnership for Women & Families about how providing paid sick days benefits workers, employers, and local communities, click here and here.