Health Impact Assessment of Paid Sick Days

Introduction
At present, there is no as such federal or state legislation in the United States that requires employers to pay the employees for the sick days. Edward Kennedy had introduced the Healthy Family Act through the Senate bill S. 932 in 2005 which could not move forward and eventually eradicated from the book after 2 years. However in two cities named San Francisco, CA and Washington, DC, the law requires certain employers to pay the employees for their sick time (Elements of health, 2008). Following is the assessment of Health Impact of ‘paid for sick time’ policy:
Screening
In the U.S, only 52% of the total salaried class has been entitled to get paid for the sick time while in most of the white collar jobs, the more than 80% of the employees enjoy health coverage and paid leaves. Thus, it is highly required to legislate and implement the policy of paid sick leaves. The potential partners of the policy may include the government, employers, organizational management and the organizations for assessing and devising the policy and its impacts whose readiness for HIA will not be an issue. The plan of developing a legislative document and approving from the senate and assembly to make it part of law sounds reasonable and it can oblige the employers to pay for the rights of employees which will result in giving various positive outcomes. According to SFDPH, influenza can be reduced by allowing employees paid sick leaves. Thus conducting an HIA is feasible and necessary as well which needs to be communicated with stakeholders (employers, employees, management, and government) as well (Workplace Flu Cases, 2013).   


Scoping
According to California Sick Day HIA, the new law has significant impact on the health of community. A team of health experts including public health management, community representatives and other government officials is required for the health impact assessment of ‘paid for sick time’ policy. Health experts are in better position to devise and suggest policies that best protect the general health of employees while community representatives can elaborate the actual needs of employees regarding sick leaves. The government members may also present solutions and alternatives which the community representatives and health experts evaluate in the best interest of all stakeholders especially employers and employees. The basic principle of collaboration on this assessment is that the health of salaried class may not be compromised while keeping the stakes of employers intact while the fundamental indicator in the HIA is the health of employees that various researches reveal that it will improve. The objectives of this HIA are to determine:
·         Significant outcomes of the new policy (determinants and indicators)
·         Prioritized potential areas (most deprived in terms of health cover)
The need is to adopt comprehensive interviewing method comprised of researched questions to take input from the employees and employers and the sample should be adequately chosen representing major chunks of the community (HIA, 2008).
Assessment
The access of paid sick days has been inequitably distributed in the U.S where 53% of the employees get paid for sick days in organizations with less than 50 employees (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Large segment of employees who had access to paid sick days remained at home than those who had no access and the average was 1.7 days while being sick. The statistics also revealed that the flu virus reduced due to paid sick days (Kevin, 2012).  
There are adequate evidences that exhibit significance and positive impact of legislation of paid sick days. Paid sick time would enable the employees to take medical care for themselves and their dependents. It would also help in reducing viral and infectious diseases like flu, influenza, etc and the community will be able to have mitigation strategies for eradicating pandemic flu. Low income workers would also take benefit in terms of avoiding wage loss that would result in preventing hunger and housing during sick days (HIA, 2008).
Recommendations
On the basis of researches and statistical evidences, following recommendations are made to respond to the existing issue of ‘paid sick days’ in the light of futuristic needs:
·         An advisory committee should be created that may be comprised of researchers and experts who keep an updated to strategize and evaluate broader impact of the new law and policy.
·         The need of medical examination that an employee has per annum must be assessed thoroughly so that need of paid leaves may be addressed. Requirements for medical certification and the difficulties in the process must also be determined and assessed.
·         It must also be assured that the employers may not reduce other employee benefits after paying for sick days and the employees must be made aware of their rights of paid sick leaves after legislation.
·          Staffing pattern must also be devised so that the health cover may be awarded on the basis of experience, seniority and performance.

Reporting
The impact of new health policy and its anticipated outcomes must be communicated to all the stakeholders to assure their participation and awareness through policy devising team of experts by using newsletter, briefing papers, presentations, etc (Kumar, 2013). The stakeholders in the entire process are employers, organizational management, employees, government, public health and community. In order to form unanimity among all the stakeholders, the fundamental principle of “assuring health of salaried class while keeping the stakes of employers intact” must be kept pivotal so that the consensus may be generated.  The legislation is also required to be communicated to the stakeholders for better implementation of law (New Sick Leave Arrangements, 2012).
Monitoring and Evaluation
The data collected and the methodologies adopted for assessing the health impact need to be monitored thoroughly to ensure accuracy and precision. Previous findings of the same health issue must also be evaluated so that the contextual validity of Paid Sick Days may be established. The implementation of new law / policy needs to be evaluated to assure the consensus of all stakeholders while the assessment and recommendations phases should also be monitored to address any lapse in trend forecasting (Kumar, 2013).  



References
Elements of Health. (2008) Paid Sick Days. San Francisco Department of Publich Health.

HIA (2008) Health Impacts of Employment Polices California Paid Sick Days. Human Impact Partners.


Increased access to paid sick days may reduce workplace flu cases. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2013, from http://hr.blr.com/HR-news/Benefits-Leave/FMLA-Leave-of-Absence/Increased-access-to-paid-sick-days-may-reduce-work
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