SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Paid sick leave reduces spread of flu

Modeling experts from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health released data on Thursday that shows universal access to paid sick days would reduce influenza infections in the workplace.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with flu stay home for 24 hours after their fever breaks," Supriya Kumar, a post-doctoral associate in Pitt Public Health's Department of Epidemiology and the study's lead author, said. "However, not everyone is able to follow these guidelines. Many more workers in small workplaces than in large ones lack access to paid sick days and hence find it difficult to stay home when ill."

The researchers simulated an influenza epidemic in Pittsburgh and the surrounding county and found that universal paid sick days would reduce the amount of flu cases in the workplace by six percent, and is estimated to be even more effective in smaller work environments. Their results are reported in the online version of the American Journal of Public Health.

"Our simulations show that allowing all workers access to paid sick days would reduce illness because fewer workers get the flu over the course of the season if employees are able to stay home and keep the virus from being transmitted to their co-workers," Kumar said.