Fox “Straight News” : Paid Sick Leave Is An “Entitlement”

In another installment of Fox's ongoing series bemoaning the purported job-killing effect of regulations, America's Newsroom anchor Martha MacCallum called a new Seattle ordinance requiring paid sick leave for employees another “entitlement” that could put small businesses “under water.”

Fox spent last week promoting GOP talking points on regulation, obscuring the myriad public health benefits from the conversation. In this case, paid sick leave for employees -- particularly in the food service industry, where access to such leave is the least accessible -- has obvious public health benefits.

A 2008 study [PDF] by Human Impact Partners, an Oakland, California, nonprofit organization, found significant benefits from a similar law proposed for the state of California:

Paid sick days would enable more people to comply with public health advice such as the CDC's recommendation to “stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick.” This will help to control seasonal influenza ( “the flu” ) and the large-scale spread of a new influenza strain (flu pandemic).

•More than a third of flu cases are transmitted in schools and workplaces.

•Staying at home when infected could reduce the number of people impacted by pandemic influenza by 15%-34%.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco director of occupational and environmental health Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, who contributed to the Human Impact Partners report, emphasized the need for paid sick leave in the interest of public health:

“It's important for policymakers to see paid sick days not only as a labor policy but as a public health policy,” said Bhatia. “One-third of seasonal flu is transmitted in schools and workplaces. Workers without sick days are less likely to stay home and more likely to contribute to the spread of the flu.”

Not only was the segment part of Fox's decidedly anti-regulation series “Regulation Nation,” but neither MacCallum nor reporter Dan Springer made much mention of the success of a similar requirement in San Francisco.

Despite MacCallum's claim that the study will cost jobs and put small businesses “under water,” The Urban Institute conducted a survey of businesses in San Francisco that concluded [PDF] that the effect of paid sick leave requirements were “minimal to moderate:”

By and large, most employers were able to implement the paid sick leave ordinance with minimal to moderate effects on their overall business and their bottom line.