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More paid sick days may lower workers' compensation claims

According to a report published in the American Journal of Public Health, employers may want to think about increasing the number of paid sick days in their benefits package. A new study finds more paid sick leave could result in better worker productivity as well as fewer workplace accidents and injuries. Only two states, California among them have a system that provides for an employee who takes a sick leave to receive at least partial wages during that time, according to the study.

The study, titled "Paid Sick Leave and Nonfatal Occupational Injuries," concluded that workplace injuries were reduced when there were fewer employees working while sick. In fact, employees who had paid sick leave had a 28 percent less chance of suffering a nonfatal occupational injury than were employees without the option of paid sick leave. This is according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health which studied data from the National Health Interview Survey that surveyed greater than 38,000 adult workers between the years 2005 and 2008.

The study also reported that employees in high-risk occupations, including agriculture, construction, healthcare, manufacturing and social assistance jobs benefitted the most from paid sick days. Having employees who are working while on medication, tired or fatigued can cause them to become impaired and decrease their concentration level and ability to make sound decisions. Most every employer knows the expense involved in defending against workers' compensation claims as well as the loss of productivity when an employee is injured on the job.

The study's authors concluded that the benefits of paid sick leave outweigh the costs in that fewer workplace accidents mean an increase in productivity while fewer sick employees means fewer contagious diseases are spread throughout the workplace. This in turn reduces the number of absentee employees. Most everyone can agree that an employee who is under the weather is not likely to be as productive as one who is not. And prior research has also indicated paid sick leave is associated with shorter recovery times from illness and fewer complications from minor health conditions.

Source: Risk & Insurance, "NIOSH: Paid sick leave equals fewer workers' comp injuries," Sept. 20, 2012

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