Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Would mandatory paid sick days hurt Philadelphia businesses? Maybe not

The Philadelphia City Council is considering a bill that would require the city's employers to offer paid sick leave to their employees—a new regulation that seems, perhaps, counterintuitive considering the poor nature of the job market here. But it turns out that the state of Connecticut is considering similar legislation—and the Economic Policy Institute has a memorandum suggesting the requirement wouldn't be so burdensome, and might offer some benefits to employers.

Among the highlights:
• If all employees used all five paid sick days, the average cost to an employer that currently provides no paid sick days to any employees would be 0.40% of sales.

• Among workers who currently have access to five paid sick days, the industry-weighted average number of days taken is 2.41 days; if employees used this average number of paid sick days, the total cost would be 0.19% of sales.
Says EPI: "The data clearly show that the potential cost of providing paid sick days is in fact extremely small relative to the total sales of a firm. In addition, available research shows cost-savings for employers that provide paid sick days, largely resulting from reduced employee turnover."

It would be interesting to see similar research brought to bear on Philadelphia, but I'm guessing the outlook wouldn't be all that different. In any case, if I were running a business, I'm not sure why I'd want to put my employees in the position of coming to work sick—infecting other employees, my customers, and even me. Based on EPI's memo, such burdens appear unnecessary.

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