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Arizona workers less likely to get hurt with paid sick leave

According to a new study that workers in Arizona will want to make sure their employers are aware of, workers in the private sector who get paid sick time are less likely to be hurt on the job than employees who don't. In fact, the likelihood of getting hurt at work for the paid sick time employees is 28 percent less than those who don't.

The study, performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, found that employees who work in more dangerous fields such as construction and manufacturing stand to gain the most from paid sick leave.

It seems elementary to many people that paid sick time should be par for the course, but the Family and Medical Leave Act only requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of leave for medical reasons. That leave does not have to be paid.

One of the study's authors said only getting unpaid leave will leave workers feeling it necessary to not report injuries so that they can keep working and making money. And if people stay home when they should, there is less of a chance of injuries happening at the job site.

The survey of 38,000 private-sector workers is pretty comprehensive. According to the responses, the rate of work injuries requiring medical attention is 3.24 per 100 full-time employees. For those with paid sick leave, however, the rate was only 2.59, and it was 4.18 for workers without paid sick leave.

Sadly, only 57 percent of respondents had paid sick leave. And a construction worker is 21 percent more likely to be hurt on the job if that worker does not have paid sick leave.

This should serve as a wake-up call to employers. Doing more to prevent injuries from happening in the first place is a win-win. It saves the employee time recuperating, and it saves the employer money on higher insurance and workers' compensation premiums.

Source: Medpage Today, "Paid Sick Leave Linked to Fewer Injuries at Work," Michael Smith, Aug. 1, 2012

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