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(Looking for a fourth reason? It’s good for you and your family.)

We can all agree that when people are sick, the best place for them to be is home or in the hospital in order to get the care they need and prevent the spread of illness. But in Pennsylvania, 46 percent of all workers have no access to earned sick time. So if they or their family members get sick, they are stuck in a no-win situation: work sick, or stay home and lose their pay (or their jobs).

1. Public Health: H1N1 (swine flu) is an example of what earned sick time is so important. The CDC and others pointed out that if people contracted the disease, they should stay home and away from others until at least 24 hours after symptoms subside. But H1N1 is only one of the many illnesses spread in the workplace, often through people with earned sick time. Unfortunately, the workers who spend the most time with vulnerable populations – our nursing home attendants, health care workers, and child care educators – are those least likely to have earned sick time.

2. Smart Business: When we talk about earned sick time, we often focus on workers and their families. But the fact remains that earned sick time is also good business sense. Employers who offer earned sick time have higher productivity and employee loyalty, and avoid costly searches to replace workers who leave the company. Also, when workers come to work sick they are less productive, more likely to spread their illness to other workers and are nearly twice as likely to be injured.

3. Economic Security: For many working families, the last thing they can afford is to lose a day’s pay. During this recession, families must stretch their dollars even further to overcome rising costs, credit card debt, and unemployment. While losing a job in any economy is bad, losing a job in this economy leaves a much smaller chance of finding a new one. Earned sick time allows families to stay economically secure while they keep their families physically secure.

Do you need another reason to support earned sick time? How about what it can do for you and your family?

Children rely on their parents to care for them when they are sick. When parents participate in the care of sick children, studies show these children recover more rapidly from illnesses and injuries and have better health outcomes. Just having a parent present can reduce the length of a child’s time in the hospital by 31 percent.

Aging parents will be relying on workers more and more for their care. Half of the workforce will be caregivers for older adults by 2012. This caregiving plays a critical role in helping elders stay in their homes, but 37 percent of caregivers had to quit work or reduce their hours to meet their responsibilities.

If you have any questions or would like more information please contact PathWays PA, at or visit the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces Blog.

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