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Paid Sick Days – What’s the Magic Number?

Tuesday December 23rd 2014

The US DOL found that employees with at least one year experience receive an average of eight paid sick days per year.  That number jumps to eleven days for employees with over 25 years of service.  While providing paid sick days for employees might seem costly to employers, not having sick leave available can also be quite expensive.

What it costs

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found that the typical flu season costs businesses about $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient care. When combined with the loss of productivity and sales, you can see how it can quickly become expensive.

One of the major benefits of offering paid sick leave is that when an employee who is ill does not come into work, the possibility of the illness spreading to other employees diminishes. Overall, this can decrease the total number of sick days used by all employees since they are less likely to become ill.

Employer offerings

Since it is inevitable that employees will become sick at some point, some employers have decided to offer paid sick leave. Others have opted to have a set amount of paid time off (PTO) to be used however the employee chooses – vacation, staycation, sick leave, etc.

While a majority of employers are not required to provide sick leave, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Washington, DC, Seattle and the state of Connecticut require private companies to offer paid sick leave.  Employers considering whether to offer paid sick leave should carefully evaluate the size of their company, the type of jobs their employees have and the tone they would like to set with their employees. Keep in mind that employers who are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are also required to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical situations.

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