Articles Posted in Paid sick leave

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For individuals with disabilities able to work, there are often many obstacles to being employed. With an unemployment rate of 3.7% for the general population, the rate for those with disabilities is 6.3%. However, some companies are working hard to reverse this troubling statistic, including Microsoft, Walgreens, and Voya. These companies are reviewing their hiring procedures to incorporate best practices in supporting employees with physical, emotional, and neurological disabilities.

It is not only the right thing for these companies to do, but it also is beneficial for the economy. A study released in October 2018 showed that America’s GDP could increase by up to $25 billion if the number of employed Americans with disabilities increased by 1%. Laurie Henneborn, research managing director for Accenture, said “[t]he conversation is absolutely evolving from philanthropic and charitable to one that is foundational to the business.” In 2017, 4.5% of Accenture’s employees reported having a disability.

It is not only important that individuals able to work are hired, but that they can maintain their health at the same time. Amongst the 61 million U.S. adults with a disability, 62% report their disability as “invisible,” meaning that colleagues don’t recognize their disability until told. Those with disabilities must be able to take time off to see doctors or for health-related reasons, making paid sick leave critical.

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Georgia does not require employers to provide for paid sick leave.  Paid sick leave is not only important for an individual’s health, but also for one’s financial security.  There are 34.2 million employees in the private sector in America without paid sick benefits. This not only affects the health of these individuals, but also their likelihood of living in poverty. Those without paid sick leave are three times more likely to be living below the poverty line, according to research from Florida Atlantic and Cleveland State University. Vicki Shabo, vice president at National Partnerships for Women & Families, argues that when employees choose to take unpaid sick leave, “they lose money that goes towards groceries, transportation and health care expenses.”

How should employees without paid sick leave protect themselves?   If you are at or below the poverty line, you should take advantage of any government benefit programs available to you, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program.  If you are above the poverty line, working, and have some disposable income, you should consider purchasing disability insurance.  This  can protect you from financial struggles resulting from an unexpected illness or accident.  Financial advisors usually recommend setting aside three months of income for unexpected economic downturns.  While setting aside three months of income may seem difficult, a second job may allow you to accomplish this.

While employees can negotiate for better benefits from their employer, absent a collective bargaining agreement (usually negotiated by unions), employees do not have much leverage.  If this method is not an option, employees can look into new job opportunities. With a growing economy, there may be a job with similar wages and skills required that offers benefits that could make a huge difference in the long-run.

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