Increased Access to Paid Sick Days May Reduce Workplace Flu Cases

New research from the American Journal of Public Health reveals a reduction in flu cases when access to paid sick days is made available in the workplace.

Researchers used an agent-based model to evaluate the transmission patterns of influenza in workplaces under different scenarios. A baseline simulation scenario referred to data from the 2010 National Compensation Survey and assumed that a larger percentage of employees with access to paid sick days stayed home than did employees without paid sick daysboth for an average of 1.7 days when sick. Results were compared to the estimated number of flu cases that might result under two alternative scenarios: (1) a universal paid sick day procedure in which all employees had access to paid sick days; and (2) a flu days procedure in which all employees had access to one or two days where they could stay home from work and be paid to recover from the flu.

Results indicated that universal access to paid sick days would reduce flu cases in the workplace by 5.86 percent and a flu days intervention would reduce cases by 25.33 percent. The universal paid sick days scenario was estimated to be more effective for small workplaces while the flu days would lead to fewer flu cases for larger workplaces. Findings indicated consistently that staying home away from work with the flu related to a reduction in flu cases in the workplace.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with influenza stay home for 24 hours after their fever has resolved. However, not everyone is able to adhere to these recommendations: 42 percent of workers would not get paid if they stayed home when ill, the studys authors explain.

Reference: Policies to reduce influenza in the workplace: Impact assessments using an agent-based model. American Journal of Public Health.

Source: American Public Health Association (APHA)