The U.S. is the only country among 22 countries ranked highly in terms of economic and human development that does not guarantee that workers receive paid sick days or paid sick leave, finds the report, "Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries" co-authored by Jody Heymann, Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy and Professor of Epidemiology at McGill University. Under current U.S. labor law, employers are not obliged to grant short-term paid sick days or longer-term paid sick leave.
"Working Americans can't afford to stay home when they're sick because they don't have paid sick days," said Dr. Heymann, the lead author of the report. "The lack of paid sick days puts Americans at substantially greater risk of contagious diseases - from the flu, which kills thousands annually, to diarrheal disease, respiratory infections, and the threat of new diseases like the H1N1 flu virus."
The full report of "Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries" is available on the Institute’s website at www.mcgill.ca/ihsp.