Severe Flu Season Brings Sick Leave to Foreground

February 2nd, 2013

This winter as seen one of the most serious influenza seasons in years, with more adults, seniors, and children being struck with serious flu symptoms than any other year dating back to 2009’s swine flu outbreak. Those who have been unfortunate enough to be stricken with the body aches, fever, and sinus congestion that comes along with this winter’s strain of the virus have frequently been forced into a tough decision: to work, or to get well?

In workplaces both in Minnesota and across the nation, millions of employees have been infected with the flu by means of a contagious coworker who shares the same office, work site, materials, or facilities. As a result of the pandemic, many who are without paid sick days in their employment contracts must decide between recuperating their personal health and keeping their financial well-being intact.

Recently published research has revealed that 40 percent of the nation’s private-sector workers-more than 40 million people total-are currently working without paid sick leave available to them. Although advocates of workers’ rights have vehemently reasserted the importance of guaranteed time for employees to convalesce at home, many managers and employers see the current time of economic uncertainty as importune for extending such benefits.

An infection contracted at work can have serious, potentially life-endangering consequences, and paid sick leave can often have a real impact on safeguarding the health of workers across the country and in every industry. Those employees who are forced by their bosses to choose between health and financial stability should contact an employment law attorney to explore the possibility of legal action.

Source: The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Flu season spreads debate over mandatory sick time,” Jennifer Peltz, Jan. 20, 2013.

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