"Influenza has a huge burden of costs on the United States. "We found that if you increase the proportion of people staying home, if you increase how long each person stays home for one additional day, you reduce influenza."
The Pitt School of Public Health researchers modeled two potential policies to increase paid sick leave. In their first model, the researchers mimicked government mandated sick leave by having 72 percent of the entire county population take 1.7 days off from work. Influenza in the population decreased by 6 percent.
In their second model, the researchers instead awarded every employee one paid "flu day." In this simulation, 72 percent of the employees with paid sick leave took 2.7 days off, while 52 percent of employees without paid sick leave took one day off. In this case, influenza fell by nearly 25 percent.
Ms. Kumar believes this data will make a strong case to implement universal access to paid sick leave.