In honor of Labor Day, a day invented to recognize American workers and give them a bit of a break, Louisa Warren, a policy advocate with the NC Justice Center, wrote an op-ed about an Olive Garden employee in Fayetteville, N.C., who risked exposing thousands to hepatitis last month.
Like so many of us, the employee couldn't afford to take a day off, and Olive Garden doesn't offer even a single paid sick day. Because of the company's policy, "nearly 3,000 people in the Fayetteville area had to be vaccinated at the behest of county health officials," reported the local newspaper.
From Warren's piece in The Fayetteville Observer:
When workers are forced to prepare food while sick, we risk this kind of public health crisis. That's one reason workers need access to paid sick days.
Another reason is economic. The verdict is in: when workers don't have access to sick leave, everyone suffers. Businesses lose money, workers lose income and the public loses out on safe food.
A 2009 study found that guaranteeing North Carolina workers paid sick time would save millions of dollars and provide direct economic benefits to both employers and employees. These benefits, the research found, "will substantially outweigh" any costs.
Employers would profit, too, according to the study. Among the report's findings:
Benefits for employers, largely from reduced costs of employee turnover, would total $418 million annually.
The weekly cost of the policy for newly covered workers would be $6.39 per worker. Savings to businesses will be $8.69 per worker, for a net savings of $2.30 per worker per week.
Workers would save $9 million annually on medical costs and short-term nursing home stays for relatives.
Read the rest of this article, by Louisa Warren, here.