Sick leave reduces flu infections: report

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Giving employees paid sick days would reduce flu infections in the workplace, according to a new analysis.

Researchers simulated an influenza epidemic in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and discovered that paid sick days would reduce flu cases by close to 6%, according to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. 

Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people with the flu stay home for 24 hours after their fever breaks, many smaller workplaces don't give paid sick leave, said lead author Supriya Kumar, Ph.D.,

Her team also found an alternative called “flu days” — in which employees had access to one or two paid days to recover from the flu — also significantly reduced workplace transmission. One flu day resulted in a 25% decrease in flu infections and a two flu-day policy resulted in a nearly 40% decrease. This benefit was most effective for work sites with more than 500 employees.

The study was funded in part by a National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant. Results will appear in August's American Journal of Public Health


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