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Workplace injuries: sick employees

Many owners of businesses are searching for ways to save money on expenses as a result of the recent economic downturn. At first, it may seem like offering employees paid sick leave would increase expenses, however, in the long run, sources suggest that offering paid sick leave may actually save money, according to a recent study.

Specifically, while not offering paid sick leave may reduce costs in the short-term, it also increases the chances of workplace injuries. This could increase costs for Pennsylvania businesses due to increased administrative needs and workers' compensation payments.

You may be shocked to learn that sick leave could decrease the likelihood of workers being injured on the job by approximately 28 percent. The survey examined 38,000 employees working in various sectors from 2005 to 2008. The study also factored in differences in demographic factors, such as age, gender and pay rate. The link between injuries and lack of paid sick leave is believed to be the result of employees being more likely to work while sick because they do not want to lose money on their next pay check.

If an employee works while he or she is sick, this can cause the worker to be drowsy and less focused. This can be dangerous for those working in riskier professions such as construction and manufacturing. Also, the survey discovered that workers who are offered paid sick leave usually recover from sickness at a quicker pace. They also experience fewer complications resulting from minor workplace injuries.

In the end, business owners and employers can help prevent their employees from experiencing work injuries. Employers should ensure compliance with all required safety regulations for their industry. However, if an employee does suffer an injury, he or she may have the option of receiving workers' compensation. Anyone who is facing a workplace injury is well-advised to seek information on any rules or regulations that are in place to prevent such injuries, in an effort to determine whether those measures were properly employed.

Source: Reuters, "Paid Sick Leave Means Fewer Workplace Injuries," Andrew Lu, August 2, 2012

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