Flu epidemic brings sick time debate back to the forefront

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In some places the level of flu activity continues to increase, but in others, it is decreasing.  It is bringing back a decades old debate, should employees get paid sick time?  Health officials said there are signs the flu epidemic is easing and may have even peaked, but doctors said they are still seeing patients and do not expect the flu to go away any time soon.

It is that time of year again- colds, the flu, sickness in the workplace.  Thousands of Hoosiers are in a tough spot when they are sick, stay home and do not get paid, or go to work and potentially get others ill.

“Is it really in an employer’s best interest to pay an employee to stay at home for one or two days, so that when they are back at work they are 100 percent?  I would suggest that it is,” said attorney Stephanie Jane Hahn.

In New York, workers are protesting to try and get their sick days paid.  Labor Attorney Stephanie Jane Hahn said it is a fight employees will not win in Indiana.

“We are not in an environment that is legislative friendly to workers getting more rights than they have had, as a matter of fact, they have taken rights away that workers had come to rely on,” said Hahn.

The closest our state got was back in 2009, a House bill calling for “paid breaks and sick leave.”  It did not happen.
Hahn said some employees will “tough it out” and come to work under the weather, others will take another form of action.

“You are going to see more and more folks pursue other courses of action in civil court, where it will be a matter of public record, there will be lots of lawyers, lots of attorney’s fees and it will take a really long time,” said Hahn.

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