Whether workers have access to paid sick leave is gaining a lot of attention the past couple of years, along with efforts to lift the minimum wage and provide extended family leave for new parents.

In fact, last year, President Barack Obama required federal contractors to offer paid sick days to employees by signing an executive order, and this year some cities, including Spokane, Washington, and Minneapolis, have passed laws requiring most employers to offer paid sick leave to workers.

Those in favor of offering paid sick time say the policy promotes better health by discouraging ill employees from coming into work and provides workers flexibility to take care of themselves and their families. Those who oppose the policy say it can be too costly, especially for small business owners.

Recently, the U.S. Labor Department reported some information from their survey to provide a gauge on where companies are at with offering paid sick time. Among the top 25 percent of income earners — those earning $28.60 an hour or more — 84 percent had access to paid sick leave. Among the bottom quarter of workers — those earning $12 an hour or less — 39 percent had the benefit as of March. Less than half of those in construction and agriculture-related fields received paid sick days, the Labor Department reports.

According to Turf research from March 2016, 30 percent of landscape contractors currently offer paid sick leave to their employees.

Lessons From LawnSite:

A LawnSite member recently asked, “What do you feel is an acceptable amount of sick days missed in the summer by an employee?” Here’s what his peers had to say:

  • “I am pretty healthy, but I feel that I’m not doing good if I use all three of my paid sick days in a year.”
  • “Calling in sick once a month or more feels excessive.”
  • “Not sure there is a set number of days that is OK to call in sick. You need to go with your gut based on the specific employee’s situation.”
  • “Ask for a doctor’s note if they are out too much.”
  • “We have a policy that if you call in sick the day before or after a holiday, then you must have a doctor’s note or you receive no pay for that sick day.”
  • “If the person is a good worker but is just legitimately having some health problems, I would give him a break.”

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