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Paid sick time – Should your organization get ahead of the trend?

sickLet’s face it – even if your staff is loaded with the most talented people in the world, they’re still inevitably going to be sick sometimes. Illness happens, even to the best of us, and talent leaders need to find ways to adjust and accommodate people’s needs.

This should be a key area of focus for HR. While ensuring high levels of employee retention and productivity is a major part of the job, you also need to concede that sometimes, people aren’t in the best shape to be productive, and you’d be better off giving them time to rest and recuperate. This is where paid time off enters the conversation. If employees have days to rest for which they’re compensated, they’ll be able to get healthy without making their illnesses worse.

There’s little in the way of federal law dictating paid time off for employees, sick or otherwise. But that doesn’t mean companies can’t take matters into their own hands and improve the situation for the workforce.

Little help from Washington
If any talent leaders are waiting on the federal government to enact legislation mandating paid sick time, they probably shouldn’t hold their breath, according to HRE Online. Mary Tavarozzi, absence and disability management practice leader at Towers Watson, told the news source that President Barack Obama has pushed for more paid leave but has struggled to get support for it.

“The federal legislation has never progressed out of committee,” Tavarozzi said. “The president, in his State of the Union address, acknowledged that the chances of a federal law, at least in the near term, are not very good.”

Since Obama doesn’t currently have the clout to guarantee workers paid sick leave, it’s up to today’s business leaders to push for it themselves.

Big business leads the way
Fortunately, the corporate world has been open to making some changes. Most notably, Microsoft made a big move recently when it announced a new program that will provide a total of 15 days of paid sick time and vacation time to its employees.

“We believe paid time off is an important benefit for workers in our economy,” Microsoft executive vice president Brad Smith told HRE Online.

Smith noted that previously, a lack of paid sick time was primarily affecting low-wage workers. Because he believes that everyone deserves time to rest and recover when sick, he pushed for a new and improved program.

The next question is whether Microsoft’s move will become the start of an important trend.

Who will follow suit?
Will your organization also decide it’s time to expand paid sick leave? Now might be the time to make such a move. Tavarozzi told HRE Online that after Microsoft’s decision, others might follow suit.

“If employers do not currently offer a certain amount of paid sick time and vacation time but think that what Microsoft is now requiring is going to become a trend, even if these employers are not Microsoft vendors, they may want to try to get ahead of the trend,” she said.

Every employee gets sick and needs some time to heal sometimes. Is your organization ready to lend them a helping hand?

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