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Mandatory Paid Sick Leave: Good for Business?

By Brett Snider, Esq. on March 14, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There is no nationwide law that requires paid sick leave for private employers, but should there be?

A new survey finds nearly three out of four Americans support mandatory paid sick leave laws, and more and more local governments are approving mandatory sick leave policies.

But is mandatory paid sick leave a good idea for business?

Paid Sick Leave Reduces Injuries

Employers like to reward employees who really give an extra effort to make it into the office, but not if it means working unsafely. A 2012 study by the American Journal of Public Health found that workers with paid sick leave are 28 percent less likely to be injured at work.

Not only do fewer injuries mean potentially fewer lawsuits for employers, it also means less time spent on workers compensation and more time on increasing productivity. Without a paid sick leave policy, your business may be in the awkward position of having to force a sick employee to take an unpaid day off.

Many Cities, States Have Mandatory Sick Leave

San Francisco was the first city to implement a mandatory sick leave ordinance, but it wasn't the last. Seattle, Portland, and Washingotn, D.C., have passed similar sick leave measures, and Chicago may not be far behind. Congress has been considering the idea since 2009 -- at least --but a handful of states have actively barred cities from requiring sick leave.

Private employers with 50 or more employees are currently required by federal law to provide up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid sick leave for serious illnesses, injuries, or family care. Companies with fewer employees -- like many small businesses -- are not required to provide sick leave unless otherwise directed by state or local law.

Americans Support Paid Sick Leave Laws

Politicians may oppose mandatory sick leave, but the survey strongly suggests that Americans support it. Of those polled, 71 percent supported mandatory sick leave laws while only 10 percent opposed. So there shouldn't be much opposition to implementing a sick leave policy in your business.

Opponents of such laws argue that is precisely the point -- employers should be able to choose their own sick leave policies. Business owners with more questions about their own sick leave policies will want to contact an experienced employment attorney for guidance.

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