Exposing the Stupidity of Those Who Oppose Paid Sick Days

sick-dayWhile I know you can’t “teach” people to have common sense if they just don’t possess it, I do believe you can try to make people aware of possibly thinking of something in a different way. But when it comes to paid sick days, I just don’t see the logic behind opposing it.

As someone who’s only worked for one company that provided paid sick days, the whole notion of being sick and staying home without being terrified of losing money or being fired is fairly uncommon for me.

For much of my younger years, especially as I made my way through school, I worked in the service industry. Never once at any restaurant for which I worked was I ever given paid sick days off. In fact, it was strongly frowned upon to miss work because you were sick. Often if someone tried, they were met with guilt or borderline threats from management if they didn’t come in to work their shift.

In fact, one time in my late teens when I was a fairly new employee at a restaurant, I vomited at work because I was too afraid to tell the general manager who was the only manager there at the time that I was sick. Upon leaning that I had vomited in the bathroom (another employee told him how terrible I looked), he came over to me and sarcastically asked me if I was tough enough to keep working. When I told him that I could try, he more or less scoffed at me and said, “just go home” then walked away in disgust.

And this whole time while I’m in this condition I’m handling the food for hundreds of people. I’m touching their glasses, plates and tables. Which doesn’t even include other employees who were exposed to my germs, possibly spreading them everywhere they went as well. Because let me tell you, if some kind of an illness broke out in a restaurant, you can bet a good portion of the staff would end up catching it.

But it wasn’t just in restaurants. I worked for Sam’s Club as well. They made it clear that they weren’t thrilled with people not showing up for work and often retaliated against those who missed work by cutting their hours. If you were a cashier at Sam’s, you touched almost every single item that came through your register for your entire shift. And just like in restaurants, if someone was working with some sort of an illness, you can bet that it was going to spread through the building eventually.

Employees showing up to work sick because they can’t afford to lose money, or they’re afraid to lose their job, are a public health hazard. 

To those who oppose mandatory paid sick days, are you fine with someone who might have a highly contagious virus serving you and your family food or touching every single one of your groceries? I’m going to say that most people wouldn’t be too thrilled with that. Except it happens every single day because people are forced to go to work either because they can’t afford to miss a day when they’re already living paycheck to paycheck as it is, or because they’re afraid to lose their job in general.

Then even if you want to take a step back and just look at just the employer side of this, would a company rather have one employee missing work due to an illness or several? How much production is lost because people take unpaid sick days after catching some kind of a virus at work from other employees who were working while they were sick? How much production is lost when an employee’s output drops because they’re working while ill?

But we all know Republicans would never approve legislation that established mandatory paid sick days for American workers. They’re just shills for big business. While they’ll claim this would “hurt employment,” the only way it would is if these greedy businesses started cutting hours to keep people below whatever threshold the mandatory sick days kicked in. Which I fully believe is exactly what many of them would do.

Honestly, at what point do we finally just say as Americans (both liberal and conservatives) that we’re sick and tired of corporate greed? It’s ridiculous. Many corporations are making record profits, and many executives are being paid better than ever, but anytime something is proposed to help lower level employees (health care, raising the minimum wage, paid sick days) suddenly these greedy bastards act like they’re cash-strapped and on the verge of collapse. They can afford it, they just don’t want to.

If people have paid sick days they can get over illnesses faster, they won’t spread their germs to other employees, and overall production will be better because businesses won’t have employees working below optimal levels due to being ill.

This argument for paid sick days goes right along with why every American should have access to affordable health care. When people are healthier (or given time to heal when they’re sick), it’s better for everyone involved. Healthier employees mean more productive employees, which is good for business. When employees are able to maintain their health that usually means less time missed from work – which then leads to fewer employees taking paid sick days.

See how that works? And all it takes is just applying a little bit of common sense. Unfortunately, that’s something far too many Republicans just don’t have.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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  • Cemetery Girl

    When I was younger I worked at a restaurant (which at the time one of the prime time news shows, I think 20/20, had just done a segement on the chain’s health safety, so this isn’t shocking) and I caught strep throat from another waitress. She knew she had it, had a doctor’s note verifying it, and she was told if she didn’t come in she would be fired. She was a single mother, so she couldn’t afford to be fired. A couple of days later when I got it (and the doctor note to prove it) I was also told I would be fired if I didn’t come in. I was still in high school, I didn’t need the job, so I hung up and stayed home. (They didn’t fire me. They knew that if they did and I challenged it the health department would be on them for forcing employees to work when they had highly contagious diseases.) Still, she got myself and two other workers sick because she was afraid they would follow through with their threat, how many customers did she get sick? I understand her actions, but companies should give employees the ability to stay home when sick.

    • Jen

      If you think food service is bad, you should look at health care. Many nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities require their staff to be at work or get attendance “points.” Rack up too many “points” and you lose your job, never mind that you are working with immunocompromised individuals and that you will likely infect co-workers as well. Nothing spreads quite like wildfire as a virus in a health care facility.

      • Cemetery Girl

        My mom is a nurse. There is no calling off in health care. (A field not at all for me! Never wanted to be a nurse.)

  • GenerallyConfused

    Common sense really should be classified as a super power.

    • Cemetery Girl

      I think it more of a lack of seeing the big picture. In retail and food service managers get bonuses for keeping labor costs down. If the only person that can come in to cover the shift is someone that would be put into more than 40 hours for the week, forget it. The work still needs to be done, so just refuse to let the sick person call off, but once what needs completed is done send them home (and hooray, you’ve cut some hours for the day!) I had one manager that relied on his bonus to make his car payment, so he made sure that he sent people home early. One of the very best managers I ever had was a retired military man. He was a stickler, but he got the big picture. He started at the grocery store I worked for and immediately told all employees to stay home when sick or he would send you home. He understood that when someone’s really sick they aren’t as productive, they are exposing customers and coworkers (which instead of having one person call off sick he’s going to end up with several), and customers will go elsewhere if the employees are all sick all the time. He would send people home if they were sick and cover your work if need be. (Yes, he would stock shelves, run a register, bag groceries, put frosting on cakes, or anything else if he had to fill the needed roll.) Few managers see a more hectic day as a worthwhile cost for keeping other employees from getting sick and customers complaining.

  • ihateppl

    yep spread all the germs going to work or having no choice to keep sick kids at home. and they wonder where the superbugs come from? that’s just basic science. people are just stupid, period.