Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Report: U.S. Leave Policies Fall Short

I can't seem to kick this damn cold.

I've been under the weather for over a week now coughing, wheezing and leaving a Mt. Everest of used Kleenex in the garbage can.

It could be a lot worse, I guess. At least it's not H1N1. I work at home, too, so I can dress like a bag lady and no one cares. There's no pressure to show up at work because I work at home. I don't have any co-workers to sicken, either. Self-employment still has a few benefits, even in this bad economy.

Maybe that's why a new Harvard/McGill University report is catching my eye today. It finds - yet again - that the United States lags behind the rest of the world in offering benefits from sick days to parental leave.

From the story:

Of the world's 15 most competitive nations, 14 mandate paid sick leave, 13 guarantee paid maternal leave and 12 provide paid paternal leave by law, they said. Eleven provide paid leave to care for children's health and eight provide paid leave for adult family care.

Or to put it another way:

* 163 nations around the world guarantee paid sick leave; the U.S. does not.
* 164 nations guarantee paid annual leave; the U.S. does not.
* 177 nations guarantee paid leave for new mothers; the U.S. does not.
* 74 nations guarantee paid leave for new fathers; the U.S. does not.
* 48 nations guarantee paid time off to care for children's health; the U.S. does not.
* 157 nations guarantee workers a day of rest each week; the U.S. does not.
* 148 nations guarantee a wage premium for mandatory overtime, including the U.S.

I think these numbers speak for themselves.

Critics say mandated paid leave would slow productivity and hurt U.S. companies' competitiveness. Well, having employees come to work sick or exhausted from being up all night with a newborn will do that, too.

In reality, the United States has been slowly losing its global competitiveness for awhile now. The rest of the world is catching up to us. Would better employee leave policies enhance our competitiveness? I don't think it would hurt.

The Healthy Families Act could require "certain" U.S. companies with more than 15 employees to offer a minimum of seven days of paid sick leave every year to employees working 30 or more hours per week. We'll see if it goes anywhere. It was introduced in Congress in 2005.

For more information and statistics regarding leave policies around the world, check out Raising the Global Floor's new website. The report is also for sale on

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