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At this time, paid sick days are voluntarily offered by some organizations and not others in most places in the United States. The United States is one of the few developed nations in the world that does not guarantee paid sick leave for all workers, although some states and cities have put legislation in place requiring paid sick leave for all employees. Organizations that do not offer sick days may be hesitant to add sick days as a benefit out of fear that employees will misuse sick days or that the option will increase costs, but there are many real benefits to offering sick days that may outweigh these possible consequences.
The goal of offering employee sick days is obviously to have employees stay home when they are sick. This in itself is a major benefit, as illnesses will be less likely to spread through the organization and affect multiple employees. Employees will also be able to recover from illnesses faster when they are able to rest, which can help employees to stay healthier overall.
Employees are generally less productive when they are ill. When illnesses spread through an organization and affect many employees, the productivity of the company may suffer. Employees may eventually be forced to take days off to recover from illnesses or injuries whether the time off is paid or not, which can also harm productivity.
Employees that have the option to take time off when they are sick may feel more valued, as the gesture shows a concern for employee well-being. Feeling valued can boost morale and lead to greater employee loyalty.
Customers that notice sick employees working when dealing with a company may perceive the company as having a lack of concern for employees and customers that may be affected by the sick employees. On the other hand, companies that show concern for employees’ and customers’ well being by offering sick time may be perceived as more conscientious all around. A customer desire to support companies that are perceived as more caring is trending, so offering sick days may actually help companies to get a leg up on the competition.
While not a direct and guaranteed benefit of offering paid sick days, improved feelings of value and better benefits may make employees less likely to quit. Missed work policies are also likely to be altered when paid sick leave benefits are implemented, so employees are less likely to be fired for missing work due to a genuine illness.
Being able to call in sick without fear of losing a job can help to shift cultural expectations. When employees are able to call in sick without fear of lost wages or employment, the idea of being entitled to take care of health becomes normalized. This can begin a shift in the way that employees view work/life balance.
In areas where mandatory sick day laws were passed, employers were generally surprised to find that initial concerns were unfounded. Most employers found that costs were increased by one percent or less and employees rarely used all of the allowed days. Employee/employer relations were also greatly improved.