Why Paid Sick Days Are a Double-Edged Sword
Does your company offer paid sick days? If so, how many do you get each year? It turns out that paid sick days tend to be linked to the size of the employer and the individual years of service employees put in. Larger companies are more apt to be generous with sick days for employees who have put in many years of loyal service.
Here in the U.S., paid time off is voluntary in every form. The only laws we have governing time off are those covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under the act, employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to qualifying employees who need it for certain kinds of medical circumstances.
The challenge of paid sick days is that they are a double-edged sword. They are both good and bad, depending on how you look at them. It helps to examine employer and employee perspectives alike, if one wants a true understanding of how difficult it is to navigate paid sick time.
The Employer’s Perspective
Employers have to look at paid sick days from a number of different angles. First is the cost. At BenefitMall in Dallas, account managers work with a multitude of payroll clients. Some offer paid sick days while others do not. According to BenefitMall, paid sick days cost an employer in three ways.
First, the employer is still paying wages to an employee who stays home for the day. That is pay for no work. Second, they often have to pay someone else to do that work. Whether that means bringing in a temp worker or having other workers put in overtime means paying extra for the same amount of work. Third, productivity tends to go down regardless of which option the employer chooses. Lost productivity costs money.
On the other hand, employers know that sick pay is one of those fringe benefits that allows them to compete in an ever-shrinking labor pool. If all other things are equal, a job seeker is going to choose the employer with paid sick time over one that doesn’t offer it. It boils down to the simple truth that acquiring and retaining top talent costs money.
One last thing that employers have to consider is the possibility that illness will spread through the workplace. If sick employees are forced to come in because they cannot afford to miss a shift, they risk spreading the sickness around. An entire office full of sick people is far less productive.
The Employee’s Perspective
Paid sick days are generally viewed as a good thing by employees. No one plans to get sick, so missing a few days every year due to a bad cold or the flu shouldn’t affect the bottom line. At least that’s the thinking. And as previously stated, employees expect paid sick days as a benefit. They are less likely to work for employers who don’t offer them.
On the other hand, they don’t realize that paid sick days might harm their employer’s bottom line. There is no way to come up with an exact dollar amount without doing some complicated math but suffice it to say that without paid sick time as a financial responsibility, a company would have more money to invest back into the business. More money to put into growth and expansion could lead to higher revenues and, ultimately, higher employee pay.
As you can see, paid sick days are not necessarily a black-and-white issue. They aren’t always good or bad. They are a double-edged sword that can go either way.