By admin | May 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

Coronavirus and Companies New Sick Time Policies

Pacific Landscape Management put in place a new sick-time policy that allows for two weeks of paid self-quarantine at home. 

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Anthony Gonzales works for Pacific Landscape Management. He started in February, and two months later his mom tested positive for COVID-19. Gonzales lives with his family. The landscaper tells TAG HR that a new sick-time policy at work allowed for two weeks of paid self-quarantine at home. “I see it more in like trying to avoid others from getting sick now. Like this, the sick time was used for quarantining myself and not bringing it into the company or anyone else,” Gonzales said.

Financial Planners at Barker Wealth Management said employers strike the balance between offering robust benefits packages but also not overspending in a way that reduces profits. They say new sick days for every employee is an added expense. But in the wake of the pandemic, Pacific Landscape is now allowing employees to take 80 hours of paid time off, even if it hasn’t been accrued yet.

Owner Bob Grover said times are changing, but that he’s guilty of working while sick in the past.

“I’m just trying to think the last time I took a day off because I was sick. I’ve just normally worked through it. So it has really been a different change because now you can’t do that,” he said.

Dr. John Townes said that’s pretty common. “There are several reasons why people go to work when they’re sick. One, is they feel like they have a duty to their job or their co-workers; they don’t want to seem weak. We have a kind of hero culture,” the OHSU infectious disease specialist said.

A study by staffing firm Accountemps shows more than half of those who report to the office with a cold or flu said they do so because of the workload. Another 40% don’t want to use sick time.

“I agree there is this pressure to sort of push through and potentially work. I think employers and employees alike are recognizing the importance to stay home if they’re sick. And my hope is that it becomes a more general social expectation,” tri-county health officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said.

In Portland, 89% of those surveyed admitted to working with cold and flu symptoms.

“If you’re a manager and you’re feeling under the weather, if you stay home, you take that tact with it, that’s going to lead by example and encourage your employees,” according to a senior TAG HR staffer.

That’s a message Pacific Landscape is taking to heart.

“I’m not as exposed out there working and around people as much. I’m closed up in my office all day long. But I have to be the role model. It’s really, really important, and if I was sick, I would stay home,” Grover said.

Baker Wealth Management financial planners said employers face a big challenge to provide added sick days: the cost. Paying for them could come at the expense of 401(k) match programs, life insurance, or other benefits currently offered.

However, for businesses that can afford to add the costs, TAG HR said the paid time could be an added incentive that helps with hiring, retention, and productivity.

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