With flu season in full swing and the holidays upon us, many employers are struggling with low staffing levels. It can be tempting to push workers to show up even if they aren’t feeling their best. However, that can be a strategy with some serious consequences. Forcing ill employees to work doesn’t just expose others to communicable diseases. It also increases the chances that an occupational injury will occur. Access to paid sick leave (and the ability to take it without negative repercussions) is essential for making the workplace safer.
According to a recent post on the CDC blog, “A new NIOSH study published in the American Journal of Public Health reported that workers with access to paid sick leave were 28% less likely overall to suffer nonfatal occupational injuries than workers without access to paid sick leave. Workers in high-risk occupations and industry sectors, such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and health care and social assistance, appeared to benefit most from paid sick leave.”
California Public Employees Feel the Strain
One comment posted by Mark Mayfield highlighted the fact that it’s not just private sector employees who could use some relief when they aren’t feeling well. “I’m an attorney in California and I daily see the toll taken on “stressed out” court (government) employees. I absolutely agree with the benefits of paid sick leave…This NIOSH study published in the American Journal of Public Health proves once again the importance of benefits to workers. Clearly, paid sick leave makes for better, less stressed out and worried employees, which means more productivity and a better workplace to boot.”
Are Your Time Off Policies Good for Employee Health?
Public sector employers must comply with FMLA laws, but that’s not necessarily paid – and it’s a lot of hassle. Employees need to be able to access paid time off or paid sick days for short term illnesses such as the flu without jumping through hoops. It’s also important to have an employment culture that encourages workers to stay home when they are sick. Public employees often work in the high-risk fields listed above such as construction and social assistance. So, this study is especially pertinent for public agencies looking to increase OSHA compliance by reducing workplace injuries.
Have you considered how your employment sick leave policies intersect with your workplace health and safety policies? A professional OSHA consultant can help you explore this connection and find ways to keep your workers happier and healthier.