Report: no sick pay increases worker injuries

Report: no sick pay increases worker injuries

Companies across Maryland and the rest of the U.S. that do not offer sick leave are more likely to have workers hurt on the job, according to a report from a federal agency.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said that workers whose companies offer sick pay sustain 28 percent fewer non-fatal injuries at work than workers without the benefits. Employees in higher-risk occupations, such as manufacturing and construction jobs, benefit the most from sick pay, according to the report.

The CDC based its report on the results of surveys conducted from 2005 to 2008, with 38,000 employees from the private sector responding. The report showed that workers in health care and technicians who did not have paid time off for illness were 18 percent more likely to be injured at work, with construction workers 21 percent more likely.

One of the report’s authors said the goal of the study was to show employers that offering sick pay as a benefit will help to reduce injuries. Private-sector employees were studied because most workers in the public sector receive sick pay.

According to the report, 43 percent of employees in the private sector do not offer the benefit of paid sick leave. One employment-law expert disputed those figures, however, offering her own statistics that showed that 61 percent of workers in this group have access to sick pay.

The co-author said that workers report for duty even when not feeling well in order to keep their daily pay. When they do, they could show up at work under the influence of medication that can make them tired or impact their ability to do their job safely.

As an additional benefit, workers who do not report to work while ill will not spread potentially contagious diseases to co-workers, which could multiply the risk of injuries on the job.

Employers in Maryland will want to weigh the cost and benefits as they determine whether to offer sick leave.

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