The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends employers “actively encourage” workers with symptoms of a cold or other respiratory infection to stay home to limit the spread of COVID-19. Similarly, workers and others exposed to COVID-19 may be quarantined for an extended period of time. Some containment efforts will be voluntary, but in other cases public health officials may enforce quarantine on individuals with known exposure or infection.
As a result of such containment, many workers will suffer significant economic hardship if their work absences are not covered by sick leave or other benefits.
Accordingly, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) encourages governmental and business leaders to create incentives for U.S. employers to grant sick leave benefits to all workers, including those infected and those quarantined, extending up to four (4) weeks during the current COVID-19 epidemic.
Granting appropriate sick leave during the COVID-19 epidemic, and other community outbreaks of infectious diseases, is likely to yield significant public health benefits. Such initiatives will help control the spread of COVID-19 infections by reducing the economic hardships that might otherwise discourage workers from complying with emergency public health efforts.
Assisting employers and workers to comply with containment efforts will help bring this epidemic to an end. ACOEM encourages government and business leaders to act quickly to extend sick-leave benefits to all American workers during the current COVID-19 epidemic.
The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.acoem.org
) an international society of more than 4,000 occupational physicians and associated professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments. Occupational and environmental medicine is the medicine specialty devoted to prevention and management of occupational and environmental injury, illness and disability, and promotion of health and productivity of workers, their families, and communities.