Unpaid leave: efforts to change are met with varying results

The conversation about employees having access to paid sick leave has been ongoing and has left many still searching for answers. Workers should be eligible to be protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act for serious illness or family emergency care if the terms of employment meet specific requirements. However, unpaid leave continues to be a reality for many in the workplace in Wisconsin and in other states.

Currently, a handful of states have passed paid sick leave laws to protect employee rights when illness inevitably keeps them from work. Many employers see it as a win because they do not want to expose other employees to sickness. Several other states, however, have passed bans on paid sick leave, citing financial burdens for businesses as the impetus.

According to an Arizona State University business professor, the cost of absenteeism to businesses is so great because of the actions that follow. Businesses must hire replacement employees, and they take a hit for days of lost productivity in the interim. The numbers show that around 40 million Americans are not even eligible for one day of paid sick leave a year.

Legislation for state approval or bans of paid sick leave continues, and many advocates of compromise are working diligently to achieve results. The United States remains the only industrial nation with unpaid leave for illness. Many American employees find that their rights are not protected in a job that does not have a sick leave policy. People take time off work due to illness, only to return to a job that is in jeopardy. Wisconsin employees can protect their rights and seek guidance when illness compromises the ability to complete their work.

Source: cnbc.com, Paid sick leave laws encounter resistance, Mark Koba, Nov. 30, 2013

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