7176618-couple-and-coldThe US Centers for Disease Control recommends staying home for 24 hours after a flu fever breaks.  But few employees do so.  Instead, they drag themselves into work and spread their respective viruses.

During each flu season, the annual direct costs (hospitalization, doctors’ office visits, medications, etc.) of influenza are about $4,600,000,000.

In the workplace, 111,000,000 workdays are lost each year in the US, the equivalent of $7,000,000,000 per year in sick days and lost productivity.

There’s a simple solution to mitigating the extent of losses:   Offer employees sick pay specifically to stay home in accordance with the CDC’s recommendation.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health found that offering “flu day sick pay” dramatically reduced the incidents of flu. Offering employees one flu day resulted in a 25% reduction in flu infections through workplace transmission, and two flu days lead to a 40% reduction.

The scientists found that the flu days were most effective in large companies with more than 500 employees.

Dr Supriya Kumar, the study’s lead author said, “These findings make a strong case for paid sick days.  Future research should examine the economic impacts of paid sick-day policies.”

Source:   Smart Planet Daily, June 14, 2013   Study will be published in American Journal of Public Health

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