In December of 2014, a task force in Philadelphia that was formed to study the issue of the benefits and pitfalls of paid sick leave came to its conclusion: Paid sick leave is necessary. Now, two Pennsylvania state senators are announcing their intent to propose legislation to preemptively prohibit mandatory paid sick leave for employees. Two steps forward, three steps back.
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Some arguments in favor of paid sick leave are obvious. If a worker must choose between coming to work sick or losing pay, she is likely to come to work and infect the rest of the office. Then, everybody gets sick, which becomes expensive for the employer even if he does not offer paid sick leave. Productivity decreases when employees work while sick, and when workers are absent, work does not get done. Seems much cheaper to pay one employee to recuperate at home for a couple of days, then to have a bunch of employees be unproductive or stuck at home for days at a stretch.
Arguments against paid sick leave include the expectation that employees will fake being sick to get paid days off. When some cities mandate paid sick leave and others don’t, the fear is that employers will relocate to places in which they are not required to offer such benefits. The humane cities that mandate paid sick leave will lose businesses and their economies will suffer.
In reality, there is strong evidence that paid sick leave reduces turnover and increases overall productivity, which in the end saves the employer money, according to The Bell Policy Center. They also report that “more than 70 percent of San Francisco employers who responded to a survey reported no negative effects on profitability from the paid-sick-leave law.”
Pennsylvania Senators Lisa Boscola (D) and John Eichelberger (R) continue to argue, in spite of evidence to the contrary, that paying sick employees to stay home is unfair to businesses. It gets worse. They have announced they intend to introduce legislation that would preempt local paid sick law ordinances.
In other words, mandating benefits such as sick pay would be against the law. This is an attempt to shut down the conversation — regardless of whether improved time-off policies would benefit both employees and employers.
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