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Can Paid Sick Leave Make You a Healthier Worker?

Comstock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- According to Uncle Sam, if you have access to paid sick leave at your job, you are likely to be healthier for it. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is out with a new study about just how beneficial this job perk really is.
 
Paid sick leave is a non-wage benefit optionally offered by employers in the U.S. In accordance with the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, public agencies and private-sector employers must provide up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave to eligible workers.  Despite the recorded benefits of paid sick leave, the CDC says only 40 million private-sector workers in the U.S. had access to this paid benefit in 2010.

Those whose employers offer paid sick leave are 28 percent less likely to suffer non-fatal work-related injuries, according to the CDC study which appears in the American Journal of Public Health.
 
The government agency says this research, which studied 38,000 private-sector workers, is the first of its kind to quantify the benefits of paid sick leave.  

The researchers found that sick or stressed workers who continue on the job increase their risk for suffering additional illness or workplace injury by 18 percent. Without paid sick leave, they keep working for fear of losing income.

"If fewer people work while they are sick, this could lead to safer operation and fewer injuries in the work place," lead researcher Abay Asfaw, Ph.D., said in a CDC statement.
 
Workers in such high-risk jobs as construction, manufacturing and agriculture benefited the most from paid leave, according to the research.

The study's lead researcher notes that if fewer people work while sick, workplace safety is enhanced for everyone. Employers may benefit from improved productivity due to reduced absences or unscheduled leave.
 
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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