Paid sick leave… September 16, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Useful piece on Slate here about how a policy introduced by the Obama administration in the U.S. is working.
Over the past decade, the movement for paid sick leave has been one of American progressives’ greatest policy triumphs. Since San Francisco first passed a law guaranteeing workers one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, in 2007, the policy had been adopted in five states, 26 cities, one county, and Washington, D.C., according to A Better Balance, a New York-based labor advocacy group.
It’s also become a White House priority. In 2015, President Obama called for states and cities to enact paid sick leave laws, ordered federal contractors to provide workers with paid sick leave, and asked Congress, in his State of the Union speech, to put a bill on his desk.
There’s been a push back by Republicans both at state and national level but it is being taken up more widely, and crucially it is working well.
…according to a new paper from the Center for Policy and Economic Research by the economist Eileen Appelbaum and the sociologist Ruth Milkman, the business community in New York has largely perceived the law’s passage as a “nonevent,” even though more than three in four employees at the surveyed firms made use of paid sick leaves in 2015.
Their survey of 350 random New York businesses, stratified to appropriately represent different firm sizes, says: 85 percent of employers reported the law had no effect on business costs, 91 percent reported no reduction in hiring, 94 percent reported no effect on business productivity, and 96 percent reported no change in customer service.
So, with some luck it will be extended yet further.
In general, an employee has no right under employment law to be paid while on sick leave. Consequently, it is at the discretion of the employer to decide their own policy on sick pay and sick leave, subject to the employee’s contract or terms of employment. Under Section 3 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 an employer must provide an employee with a written statement of terms of employment within two months of the commencement of the employment. One of the terms referred to in this Act on which the employer must provide information is the terms or conditions relating to incapacity for work due to sickness or injury.
Tellingly Illness Benefit is payable for workers who have at least two years of PRSI contributions (it’s a bit more complex than that). But there’s no onus on employers to cough up.
I’m on contract but have a limited number of certified sick days per annum. I’m reasonably healthy but I know when to stay out (though perhaps I don’t know quite as much as I should, as noted here today about four or five years ago I caught pneumonia and thinking it was a just a very severe infection didn’t get to the doctor for three days). And that’s the thing, there are times when it is necessary to stay out both for oneself and for others. I also get an even more limited number of uncertified sick days. Some years I’m lucky and don’t use them. Others I do. But they’re necessary too. Getting to a doctor is an expensive process and sometimes it is best to stay in bed.
I’ve seen and been in companies where workers were expected to take sick days out of their holiday days. Given that holiday allocations were so low this was, if you’ll pardon the expression, a sick joke, something that penalised workers twice over. And to what purpose? Any employment that felt or feels comfortable treating workers in such a fashion is one that clearly doesn’t value them. Certainly morale in the companies I experienced this in was rock bottom. Worse again was the way in which there was a divide between more ‘senior’ employees, generally managers and so on who were afforded paid sick leave as a perk.
These are basic rights all workers should – well, enjoy in relation to illness isn’t perhaps the correct term. But it is important that workers shouldn’t feel that something which is no fault of their own does not impact negatively on them in a work context, particularly financially.
So the approach seen in the PS in the last number of years with a small number of uncertified sick days per annum and the a certified sick days allowance seems to me to make a lot of sense. As will be recalled during the last decade the allowance of uncertified sick days was cut back. 7 per annum was reduced to 7 across two years. That seems about right and subsequent stats seem to show the system working reasonably well.
We often hear about the necessity for ‘flexibility’ in work places but – even putting aside an instinctive scepticism about such calls – that works both ways. Employments have to accommodate the reality of people getting ill and should be paid during those times. There’s something more than a bit shocking about the fact that it is not a right that all workers in this state already have.