Paid sick time off is a luxury benefit in America’s business world. Companies also don’t like paying them, so it’s very common for them to tell people to “tough it out” or risk possibly being fired. One place where this is very common is in the retail, service and restaurant worlds.
Now that the U.S. has it’s second confirmed case of Ebola being contracted within our borders, it’s time for a much over-do, very serious discussion on public health. One key aspect of that must be paid sick days. With cold and flu season here, sniffling noses, sneezes and coughs will become much more common. But is it just a cold, or could it be Ebola? If the disease spreads anymore, we really won’t have anyway of knowing until a test is performed, which takes hours to confirm.
Think about the person that serves your food at the rester aunt. They are working a low-paid job, most likely without paid sick days. If they get sick, they may be told to come in or, if they have an understanding boss, can have the day off without pay. But we are talking about people scraping everything together to survive paycheck to paycheck, so losing 20% of their weekly income might become a serious issue. So what’s the alternative? Tough it out and head into work, hoping it’s just a cold.
With paid sick days, we may eliminate the risk of more people being exposed. If that person prepping your burger at McDonald’s could take the day off, go to the doctor and get checked out, without risking financial hardship, then everyone would be a lot safer. Instead companies believe that paying someone for a day off is nothing more than a loss of money. They don’t figure that it would be a much greater loss if that sick person came to work, had Ebola and infected 50% of their staff. They just think inside the box, and that puts us all at risk.
Hopefully we can get a much larger discussion going on about preparation, response and care for serious diseases, like Ebola, but that discussion will be useless without seriously addressing the best deterrents, like limited exposure, and that can start with letting people call-in sick to work without risking financial tragedy.