April 5, 2013

Another View: The other side of the coin on paid sick leave: More days off

Productivity is higher when ailing workers are given time off, but to some it's more vacation.

By BOB PELLETIER

Re: "Our View: Time to heal: U.S. needs paid sick-leave mandate" (March 27):

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Pelletier is a resident of Kennebunk.

It is easy to comprehend your view that up to seven days' paid sick leave makes economic sense and is, in fact, a social justice issue.

Productivity is indeed higher when ailing employees are not forced to work. However, there is another side to that coin, and it needs to become part of the conversation.

Prior to retirement, I was in charge of a national service center employing more than 1,200 people. We offered very competitive salaries and a comprehensive benefit package, which included seven days of paid sick leave.

In the early years, not much of a difference was noted in the number of sick days taken per employee than prior to the initiation of the seven paid days' leave.

But after five years, another look was taken and it became apparent that the paid sick leave was becoming (had become for many) seven more vacation days.

We noted that "sickness" occurred on many Fridays and Mondays, and for almost 45 percent of our employee base, the average number of sick days rose from 2.5 to 6.5 annually. In other words, another week of paid vacation.

We began to require a doctor's note for absences, and suddenly the number of sick days lessened. Just another consideration as this topic is evaluated.

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