Country debates paid sick leave

Cold and flu season is quickly approaching. During the winter, it is almost inevitable that people will get sick. And if they don't get sick, it's likely that their children will. When this happens, people often need to take a sick day to care for themselves or a sick child. If people are lucky, their employer will provide them with a certain number of paid sick days. However, this is not required by Louisiana state law or under federal employment laws. In fact, many employers can even terminate an employee for missing too many days for being sick.

Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, some employees may be able to take unpaid leave to recover from an illness, recover from having a new baby or to take care of a sick family member. However, only about 60 percent of employees are covered under this law. People working for smaller companies, or part-time employees generally do not qualify for FMLA leave.

A new movement in the United States is trying to remedy the sick leave problem. Cities and states across the country are working to pass their own laws and ordinances that would require businesses to provide a certain number of paid sick days per year. They argue that this is a basic right that all employees should have. They argue that the United States is the only developed country in the world to not to provide paid sick leave for employees.

Employers and business interest groups, on the other hand, argue that such laws will be too much of an administrative hassle to enforce. Furthermore, they argue that the requirements will stifle economic growth for many businesses.

Only time will tell if paid sick leave will become a reality in the United States. However until it is, Louisiana residents should understand the protections they are afforded under FMLA.

Source: CNN Money, "City by city, the campaign for sick days picks up steam," Emily Cadei, Sept. 9, 2014