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Ricardo McQueen: Paid sick leave is good for business

Businesses do better when their employees feel better.

I have dedicated my professional life to helping businesses meet and exceed health and safety standards. As the owner of Food Health and Environmental Safety, I provide business owners and staff members with hundreds of tips and best practices to ensure employee and customer safety. The biggest tip I can provide employers is to not work while sick and to provide paid sick time so their employees don’t have to work while sick.

This is why I was excited to hear about President Barack Obama’s support for the Healthy Families Act. The measure would mean that employees would earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, not to exceed 56 hours or 7 full days of work.

That means for a total of one week a year employees can remain home to recover from illness, heal following a surgery or provide care to a sick child or loved one.

The ability to stay home with a sick child protects children in schools and daycare facilities by providing an option for home-based child care that doesn’t take money out of a parent’s paycheck. Sick children are sent to school and daycare every day because their parents are left without options. With low pay and no sick time, parents are stretched too thin to stay home with their sick child, and that puts other children at risk.

Working sick doesn’t just destroy the morale of an employee; it compromises a customer’s experience and keeps the employee sick longer. Without the day off, employees can’t get needed rest or visit their doctor to get medication or advice on how to treat their illness. This keeps employees without earned sick time sick longer and zaps their productivity at work. Happy employees get more work done, and happy customers bring in more revenue.

While the Healthy Families Act only applies to businesses that have more than 15 employees, smaller businesses like mine are committed to our staff and customer’s safety, and many of us already choose to offer paid sick time. Businesses that don’t offer sick time experience higher turnover, decreased employee productivity and lower employee morale. They run the risk of illness spreading throughout the business and affecting numerous employees, but most importantly, they run the risk of getting their customers sick.

Opponents to the legislation argue that the measure is bad for business, but they don’t speak for my business or many of the businesses on Main Street. I know a thing or two about a healthy business, and I make my living teaching businesses how to do better. Offering earned sick time for your employees will make your employees’ and customers’ experiences better, and your business will do better.

Ricardo McQueen, is a member of the Main Street Alliance of Florida, and owner of Food Health & Environmental Safety in Orlando, FL. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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