Swine Flu and Sick Days

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Swine Flu and Sick Days

WASHINGTON - BARBARA GAULT, via Elisabeth Crum

Director of research for the Institute for Women's Policy Research,
Gault said today: "The Centers for Disease Control has recommended that
those who are sick should stay home from work or school to avoid
infecting others.

"However, analyses of Bureau of Labor Statistics and other data
conducted by the Institute for Women's Policy Research have found that
less than half of workers have paid sick days, and only one in three
are able to utilize sick days to care for sick children. Workers
without paid sick days lose wages if they stay home, and many workers
risk losing their jobs. As a result, workers who lack paid sick time
are more likely to go to work with a communicable illness, and parents
who cannot stay home with a sick child are more likely to send sick
children to school or day care. Workers who work in direct contact with
the public, such as restaurant workers, child care workers, and hotel
employees, are among the least likely to have paid sick days.

"People who go to work or school while sick may infect coworkers,
customers, and classmates, resulting in even more infections. With
seasonal influenza, this pattern of infection is a serious problem,
costing employers and families millions of dollars a year and sometimes
causing serious illness or death, especially among infants and the
elderly. The deaths among young, healthy individuals in Mexico
(identified as a serious cause for concern by the CDC and WHO) suggest
that the swine flu has the potential to be much more costly and
dangerous than typical seasonal influenza.

"The swine flu situation raises the question of the public health
costs of failing to provide paid sick days. Despite the public health
implications and popular support -- four of five Americans think that
paid sick days should be a basic labor standard -- no national or state
laws require that workers have paid sick days."

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A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.

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