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Everyone Has the Right To a Sick Day—But Maybe Not For Long

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Work culture in the United States is notorious for its intensity and tendency to breed workaholics. What with pithy maternity leave and limited vacation time, it’s no wonder our work culture can even lead some to skip out on sick days. But, this all may be changing.

A new bill sponsored by California's Mimi Walters will encourage companies to give employees between 14 and 20 days of paid time off. As Bloomberg recently reported, the bill will also allow for more flexible work environments that accommodate remote work and job sharing. And, surprisingly, big businesses are actually into the idea.

Currently, most companies provide 10 days of vacation and 10 sick days a year, on average. What’s more, only about a third of workers in the United States actually have paid sick days, and that’s usually if it’s required by law or the company decides to include it in its policy.

There are many state and local laws that dictate sick day policy around the country, but because of this, policies can become difficult to navigate. However, this new legislation would be sweeping and require companies to group leave categories into one, creating a bank of days that could encompass sick time, vacations, and holidays.

While many of the current local laws allow employees to request sick days without prior notice and leave little to no room for employers to deny these requests, this new legislation could potentially open up room for managers and employers to reject time off requests.

Though many support the passing of this legislation, there are some who have expressed dissent. More than anything, there is growing concern around the fact that employers would wield the right to either approve or deny time off requests. Some have called this right a loophole that could prove potentially dangerous.

Ultimately, current limitations on sick days can be detrimental to workers’ wellbeings. Workers who lack paid sick leave are more likely to continue working while sick and also more likely to skip out on medical care for themselves and for their loved ones.

But, while this bill may seem promising in changing that, it could also be used as another way for employers to control their employees’ time and personal lives. If this legislation is passed, it will mean new rules dictating benefits to workers across the country. But, it's important that proper precautions be taken to ensure that workers’ petitions for sick days and leave aren’t routinely denied.

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(Photo by Lyndsey Marie on Unsplash)

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