It’s getting to be that time of year again….kids are back in school, days are cooler and shorter and colds, flus and viruses rear their ugly heads. Along with feeling terrible, come doctor’s visits, medications, missed work days and sometimes hospitalization making paid sick leave is essential. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in just six months during the 2015-16 flu season, there were 10,000 flu-related hospitalizations.

For many in the United States, unpaid sick days can lead to financial turmoil.

Many companies offer only a few sick days, while others have no paid sick days at all.

Things may be changing. There is mounting evidence showing that providing employees with paid sick time leads to enormous benefits for both the company and employee.  According to the United States Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, change is coming, “We are on the cusp of huge breakthroughs on paid leave and paid sick days. I believe in 30 years, we will look back at this moment when we began to turn the corner, when a sleeper issue finally began to awaken and when grass-roots momentum began to gather steam and roll toward a broad national consensus.”

Some cities and states are taking the lead and mandating changes with paid sick leave. Chicago is the latest to join this movement. Beginning in July 2017, companies of any size, operating within the geographical city limits of Chicago or requiring city licensures, will be required to pay their employees a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked. This time is not to exceed 40 hours within a 12-month period, and employees will be permitted to carry over 2.5 sick days into the next 12-month period.  Employees will not be paid for unused paid sick leave days.

The trend for paid sick leave instead of unpaid sick leave is catching momentum for good reason. Studies have shown that employees with paid sick leave have improved morale and productivity.  Companies with paid sick leave attract and retain talented employees and reduce costly employee turnover. Costs of medical care also decrease as employees receive the medical attention they need early-on in the illness, thus reducing emergency room visits and the spread of contagious diseases among co-workers.

Those cities and states who have enacted paid sick leave laws have experienced enormous success and are garnering strong support from local businesses.

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