Guaranteeing workers paid sick days would significantly improve the nation's health.
A new report conducted by the Human Impact Partners and released by the National Partnership shows that passing the Healthy Families Act, which would let employees at firms with at least 15 employees earn up to seven paid sick days a year, would have a profoundly positive effect on public and individual health.
Nearly half of private-sector workers (48 percent) do not have access to paid, job-protected sick days. Seventy-nine percent of low-income workers—the majority of whom are women—do not have a single paid sick day. For them, staying home when sick means going without pay and perhaps risking their jobs.
A Health Impact Assessment of the Healthy Families Act of 2009 (PDF)
The new report finds that more than one-third of flu cases are transmitted at schools and workplaces, and that guaranteed paid sick days would reduce the spread of pandemic and seasonal flu by enabling workers to comply with public health advice if they or their family members show signs of illness. Infected workers staying home could reduce the spread of a pandemic flu virus by up to 34 percent, according to the study. Without preventative strategies like paid sick days, a serious flu outbreak could kill more than two million people.
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