Many U.S. workers find it difficult to stay home when sick. Those who opt to stay home often suffer lost wages and risk being fired. In a 2008 survey by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center, 11 percent of respondents reported losing a job after taking time off from work for an illness, while 13 percent said they were told they would be fired or suspended if they missed work due to illness.
The above survey also found that of those who didn’t receive paid sick leave, 68 percent went to work with a contagious illness. This can encourage the spread of the disease to co-workers, clients and others who may be exposed. Paid sick leave allows employees to stay home without risking their income or the health of others, however, over 40 percent of all private-sector employees do not receive paid sick days. To help increase employee access to paid sick leave some local governments have enacted ordinances requiring employers to provide paid sick leave.
This issue brief analyzes the legal, political and social feasibility of paid sick leave ordinances.