You've probably already gotten the office memo - stay home from work if you feel sick. But as many as one in three Americans can't take their bosses up on that offer - because they don't have paid sick days.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says around 80% of full time workers get paid sick days while only 25% of part time workers do. That means almost 41 million Americans can't afford to stay home when they're sick-- which puts everyone else at risk. In fact, the American Journal of Public Health says an additional five million people were infected with flu symptoms in 2009... mainly because they caught it from a co-worker.
Add it all up, and the seasonal flu can get quite costly. The Center for Disease Control estimates a typical flu season costs businesses about 9 to 10 billion dollars in direct costs... things like worker hospitalizations, outpatient and emergency visits, medication. And that doesn't even count indirect costs like lost productivity and sales.
So while providing sick days may seem too expensive for some employers, it can actually be more costly to withhold them. An analyst with the Center for American Progress says the U.S. is the only developed country without a law ensuring workers have the right to have paid sick days.