Paid Sick Leave for Swine Flu?

POSTED: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 - 8:54am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm

As if getting sick with the swine flu isn't bad enough! Some fifty million workers lose pay when they stay home sick.

Their alternative is showing up feeling awful, and contagious. Who wants that?

Think of tens of thousands of school lunch workers! California Representative George Miller said, "If they're sick and they're serving food to children in the cafeterias, you just have great chances to see the H1N1 influenza spread rapidly."

Nearly a third of workers in the U.S. have no paid sick leave. Many are in service industries like hotels and restaurants, which are already low-pay jobs.

One House Democrat proposes forcing employers to cover workers pay, if they're out with something contagious like swine flu. "What we're saying is that, if the employer directs you to go home then he'll provide you a paid sick leave for that day," said Miller.

Pay for up to five days that the worker has to stay home. That's real money to businesses. They'd have to pay the sick worker and maybe a fill-in. Will they resist? Backers say not if they want to keep other workers and customers healthy. Most people are getting through their bouts with the swine flu. But it has killed 129 children in the U.S. since April.