Seven states and cities currently have paid sick leave laws: Connecticut; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Seattle; Jersey City, N.J.; New York City; and Portland, Ore. Measures in the last three were passed this year.
Grassroots efforts in states including Arizona, Minnesota, Illinois and North Carolina have grassroots efforts seeks to put paid sick leave laws in their legislatures in 2014.
But 10 states have passed paid sick leave bans in the past three years, seven of them in 2013, according to research by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a think tank that focuses on issues concerning low- and middle-income workers.
Similar bans are under consideration in 14 other states, along with efforts to weaken or eliminate current laws that mandate paid sick days for private businesses.
"Absent workers impose real costs on firms," said Marjorie Baldwin, a business professor at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business. "With hiring replacement workers and lost productivity, it's natural the firms would not want to 'pay for' absenteeism."
Others, however, point out that paying people to stay home when they are ill prevents them from infecting other workers.
"This is penny-wise and pound-foolish," said Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University. "If you take away sick leave, you get people coming to work sick who then get other people sick."
"What you save on not paying the first person to stay home you lose many times over with other people getting sick and not being productive," she said.
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