SURVEY SAYS: Should Employers be Required to Offer Paid Sick Leave?

I asked NewsDash readers if they thought employers should be required to offer paid sick leave to employees.

The majority (53.6%) said yes, while 35.5% said no. Nearly 3% indicated it should be required for certain industries, and 8% had other responses.  

The comments included a wide range of beliefs, including one reader who said “ab-so-lute-ly not!”, and on the other side a reader saying “Yes, most definitely. Otherwise, you’ll have employees coming into work while they’re sick mainly because they know they won’t get paid if they don’t.”  

Commenters expressed concern over the cost of providing the benefit for some employers, but also included were comments on the cost of sick employees coming into the office. Many responding readers thought the government should butt out, and some said the fact that it is not mandatory creates the right competition for talent. 


We have PAL time - we use to have X days vacation and Y sick. We seem to be a healthy/honest company as a lot of us never used our sick time and lost it. Now we all get the same number of days off, use them how you need them. We also have a rolling amount of PAL time, ie I have what I haven't used PLUS the next 12 months that I will accrue so if I've used my vacation and get sick I've got the time, just lose posible future vacation time. 


Unfortunately, nearly all of my 'vacation' days were also used for paid sick leave (I really need a vacation!). 


While it sounds good in theory as a noble thing to do, let's not forget the cost to employers - we don't need more mandates that make it harder for businesses to stay in business. 


ab-so-lute-ly not! 


It's a benefit that companies should be able to decide upon for themselves, such as 401(k) plans. This choice may make the difference between whether to open, expand or continue a business. It's difficult enough for people to get into and stay in business without any unit of government adding further costs. 


I think personal days should be offered, to be used either for sickness or other personal events. I do not feel that the government should be telling employers how many days should be given; that's up to the company. 


Yes, most definitely. Otherwise, you'll have employees coming into work while they're sick mainly because they know they won't get paid if they don't. 


As with all things, there should be a middle ground that would be acceptable to employers and still protect their employees. Thinking of the many times I have gotten ill because a co-worker came in sick becasue there was no paid sick time. Sigh.... 


Paid sick leave is a good idea but at our company it just gives our employees another week of paid vacation. 


Employers that have over over a set amount of employees, say 25. If it is a 3 person office, no way, just doesn't work financially.

Verbatims (cont.) 

It is the logical thing to do. Companies don't want sick employees coming to work who may infect others and may also make mistakes in their work. They may also be too worried about a child who is sick to be able to do their job properly. It's best for everyone that employees have some sick time off. In today's world it is a necessary benefit to attract and retain employees. 


but I think they should limit the days provided. 


I don't think they should be REQUIRED to do it...but I think it makes good business sense to do it. And think about it...if a company doesn't offer sick leave, that makes it harder for them to compete for top talent. I think the market should fix it...the federal gov't should not get involved. 


There are too many mandates already. 


It should be up to the individual employer. Those that offer benefits like paid sick leave will be considered to be preferred employers. 


It beats having obviously sick people come in to work to infect others. 


No point in having the entire company get sick because employees come to work and spread the germs. 


The key is a healthy workplace - if you don't offer it, people come to work sick, and everyone gets it. I've seen this happen. At my current firm, we have sick leave, and workers are told in no uncertain terms: If you're sick, stay home. 


Actually prefer granting a fixed number of paid days off per year, employees may use for any purpose but it makes them manage their time away more carefully. Amazing how much healthier they are when the days can be for personal/annual or sick leave rather than two separate categories of accrual and use! Plus there is the saving in that instead of 13 and 13 days, generally give a pool of 20 so there is immediate savings in total hours given per employee per year. 


In our Company, we give paid vacation dependant on years of service plus 4 personal days. If an employee uses all their paid time off, why should they get paid additionally for sick time? 


Are we not smart enough to look at the benefit package on our own to decide whether to join the company? I'd rather waste the money how I please than let them do it. 


Employees should be allowed a reasonable number of paid sick days. Otherwise, they will come into the office sick and spread their germs along to others. Employees should be able to recover without being penalized financially. 


An business has a certain number of dollars to spend on its employees. A requirement to spend those dollars in one place means that it will not spend the dollars in a different place. 


Sick time is a benefit, I don't think the government should be dictating employee benefits packages. 


If your job is going to force you to go home due to being ill...then yes, they better be willing to pay for it. If they aren't willing to pay for it, then they better leave it up to the employee. 


The average worker can't afford to miss 20% (1 day)of a weeks pay, let alone 2 or three days. The result is sick people coming to work, exposing co-workers. Penny wise and dollar foolish for employers. 


Calling it personal days makes sense since healthy people have other needs like doctor's appointments and legal commitments.

Verbatims (cont.) 

Why do we think it's okay to force people who are ill to choose between having money to pay their bills/support their children and take care of their health? 


I don't think there should be sick leave for part time workers. 


Good grief, NO! We need less government intervention in our lives, not more. It's no wonder so many US companies are going overseas! 


Actually, I think the best form of leave is PTO (paid time off), that can be used as vacation time or sick leave. I think PTO keeps people honest, because they will only use a PTO day for sickness if they are truly sick. It allows people who are not sick very often to use the PTO days as vacation instead. When you have sick days separate from vacation, there are typically employees who will use them all up regardless of whether they are sick or not. 


Depends on many factors, including the impact on the company and the type of work they do. In general, paid sick leave (or the combined vacation/sick leave pool of PTO) is a wise choice. 


If a company is going to have a sick leave policy, they should make sure it's clearly stated, communicated and managed accordingly. Too often people abuse the policy, and that creates an atmosphere of negativity that reduces morale. State the policy and hold employees accountable. 


It is a nice benefit to offer but I don't think employers should be required to offer it. Too much regulation in the business world could cause many companies not to hire (more) people. 


Fact of the matter is, at some point in time we all get sick. It's not something you can plan, not something you can control, and as such, I think paid sick time makes common sense. As an employer, having employees out sick from time to time should be considered a cost of doing business. 


We offer paid leave and pay off any unused time on the anniversary date. Because we CHOOSE to do this, it gives us a competitive advantage. Mandated benefits become entitled and no longer have value. 


Employees know what the benefits are when they agree to work. Government needs to butt out. 


Whether benefits of any sort are provided needs to be driven by the competition for employees. If it is required to attract employees, it should be offered - like any other benefit. If required for everyone, it makes the workforce more and more expensive, and we become less and less competitive in the global economy. 


I do feel that employers should offer paid sick time. 5-10 days depending on the industry. People who work in cubical farms tend to get sick because of all the germs. However there should be an incentive that encourages individuals not to use theri sick time as though it is an entitlement. (For example unused sick time converts to a personal day on a 2 for 1 basis. 


Sometimes people need to be forced to do the right thing. 


even though the offer sick leave they should still be able to discipline for missing work. 


I don't like sick people in the office--we all get sick. 


Aren't we supposed to have a system of free enterprise? 


anywhere from 5 to 10 paid sick days should be provided 


The answer to everything, it depends on facts and circumstances. 


Anytime an employee is employed for a year of service.

Verbatims (cont.)

Employers should be left on their initiative here. If they are able to provide such & the competition offers it, it will be provided. Entitlement states aren't faring so well these days & we should take these vicarious lessons to heart. We don't need to go down that road. When businesses prosper, there are all kinds of perks for the economy, including better benefits for employees and charitable donations from employees & companies flow, among other community positives. 


Socialist are once again messing with a free market economy. 


Vacation and Sick days should be left up to the individual employer. They are only marketing tools for the company to entice workers. If they elect not to offer sick days they run their own risk of losing employees 


We pool time which can be used for any reason out of the office. 


I feel that we have the most generous "salary continuation" program within 1000 miles. It would make most employers heads spin, but, by golly, it works very well here. 


Once it's required there will be abuses by certain employees 


A reasonable amount of paid sick leave (5 to 10 days) makes it possible for employees to stay home when really ill (and thus keep their cooties out of the office) and to take care of ill children, spouses or partners when needed. Keeping germs out of the workplace should be a no brainer after the H1N1 debacle. 


Use of PTO plans to allow employees to take time off for whatever they need provides the most flexibility, and requires the employee take ownership of how they use their time. 


Without a "sick leave policy" in companies there is potential for inequity between exempt and non-exempt employees in the handling of sick days. 


Otherwise, those who cannot afford to go without pay would come to work sick and you wouldn't be getting your money's worth that day anyway. Plus, they'd be getting other employees sick. 


People should be able to take time off when they are sick. PTO offers a nice way for those who don't have to take sick time to be "rewarded", but it winds up creating a lot of "extra" time off to be managed.