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.