Paid Sick Leave Is Everybody’s Business

There has been a push in Canada for 10 days of paid sick leave for all Canadian workers. It started as part of the recovery from COVID-19, but there is talk of making it permanent going forward. Employers are resisting the idea of being forced to provide 10 days of paid sick leave for their employees, but this is based on incorrect ideas that persist in the business community. Five Myths About Paid Sick Leave Busted –

Paid Sick Leave Will Not End Your Business

The bottom line—paid sick leave is not going to make businesses go broke. Business owners are reading this and thinking, “No way! If I give all of my employees 10 days off with pay each year, it’ll eat up all my profits,” but the numbers just don’t bear this out. In both hard numbers in terms of cost benefit analysis as well as softer measurements like employee morale, paid sick leave is a good investment.

Take a look at this quick video for an overview of paid sick leave:

So Many Benefits!

The benefits your company can see when you implement this policy:

  • Higher employee retention.
  • Greater employee loyalty.
  • Higher company morale.
  • Lower costs for replacing/retraining employees.
  • Lower presenteeism.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Lower healthcare costs for your community.
  • Increased profits and growth (yes, really!).

Employees with paid sick leave are less likely to leave your company, which saves you costs in re-hiring and re-training replacement workers. They stay because they *can* stay (they can look after themselves better without needing to quit their job to do this), and they stay because they feel loyalty to an employer who recognizes and respects their basic humanity.

“Employee training has a significant price tag for any organization — regardless of size. It can cost companies 16 percent of a low-wage worker’s salary to find and train a replacement, according to the Center for American Progress. That number can grow to as much as 200 percent for highly skilled professionals.”

“A study of restaurant industry practices found that implementing better workplace practices, including paid sick days, can reduce turnover by 50 percent.”

“Sick days reduce turnover. Studies have shown that companies that offer paid sick leave see a reduction in employee turnover somewhere between 3.61% to 6.43%. Low turnover maintains consistent productivity, boosts employee engagement and morale, and builds a sense of unity between staff and managers.”

Presenteeism – A Huge Hidden Cost

Now let’s talk about presenteeism—when workers come to work sick because they have no paid sick leave. You might not have heard of presenteeism, but it is a BIG problem—in Canada, it is a 6 billion dollar problem. When employees are coming to work sick, they have reduced productivity, they can spread sickness to the rest of your employees, and they can spread sickness to the rest of the community. And then there’s that nasty low morale problem again—forcing employees to work sick makes them unhappy and resentful. Our current COVID-19 pandemic crisis is really underlining how much sick workers infect each other and the community.

“Presenteeism—when employees show up at the office, but aren’t really there whether due to illness, exhaustion or stress—results in a loss of productivity, impacting an organization’s bottom line. Research shows that in the US, presenteeism can cost around $150 billion, in Canada, it’s about a $6 billion problem.”

“In addition, the community stood to save $3.8 million per year due to reduced flu contagion, fewer emergency room visits and other public health benefits.”

“Providing paid sick days could save employers up to $1.8 billion each year through fewer absences from reduced spread of flu-like illnesses alone.”

“The risks and costs of contagion are highest in workplaces where employees regularly deal with the public, and these are frequently the very workplaces that typically do not allow workers to earn paid sick days. In a survey of women fast food workers, for example, the vast majority – 86 percent – said they lack access to paid sick days, and 7 in 10 report going to work at least once in the previous year while coughing, vomiting, or having a fever or other serious symptoms.”

Increased Profits And Growth From Paid Sick Leave?

It sounds counter-intuitive, but this is one of those cases where paying some money can net you more money and success. Employees working sick can actually make them less productive than staying home and getting better.

“The two Journal of the American Medical Association studies, for example, found that the on-the-job productivity loss resulting from depression and pain was roughly three times greater than the absence-related productivity loss attributed to these conditions. That is, less time was actually lost from people staying home than from them showing up but not performing at the top of their game.

The experts studying this issue are finding that companies in areas where paid sick leave has been mandated were able to implement the policies without taking a serious profitability hit, or are actually performing better. The majority of companies where they had to provide paid sick days now support the policy.

“In San Francisco, where paid sick days have been legislated by the county since 2007, a survey of more than 700 employers and nearly 1,200 employees found that the city’s paid sick leave ordinance had benefited employees without reducing employer profitability.”

“A growing body of evidence from the longest- standing laws shows paid sick days policies are working for businesses. In jurisdictions with paid sick days laws in effect, the majority of employers say they are supportive of the law and many did not need to change their policies to be in compliance. Almost two years after New York City’s strong paid sick days law took effect, 86 percent of employers expressed support for it.”

“Employers in jurisdictions where employees have paid sick days have seen increased growth and reported no negative impact on profitability. Connecticut, the first state to enact a paid sick days law, reported that the vast majority of employers saw minimal effects on cost and made no changes such as increased prices or reduction in employee hours… San Francisco experienced higher rates of job and business growth than neighboring counties after its paid sick days law took effect, including in the sectors most impacted by the law.”

“Paid sick days don’t just benefit employees – they benefit communities as well. In cities with paid sick days laws, economic growth is a recurrent outcome.”

What If My Employees Take Advantage Of Me?

This is a real concern, but there are ways to handle this issue as well. As with most issues, most employees will be honest and reliable; a few bad apples will try to get away with something. Some of the things you can do to keep employees from abusing your paid sick leave policy is to monitor employees’ use of it, apply the rules fairly and evenly for every employee, or consider turning paid sick leave into simple paid time off/personal days. You can also develop a culture in your business that encourages people to do what they need to do, but be responsible about not abusing paid sick leave/paid time off.

From what the studies are showing, paid sick leave is an idea whose time has come. It benefits the employees who can stay home when they are sick, it benefits employers who have increased productivity and worker morale, and it benefits the community with stronger businesses and healthier people.


For inquiries, please contact Jim at 403-715-4162 or via email at

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