The Plank

Who Hates Sick Leave?

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As Ezra Klein says, there's not too much that's shocking about the new Labor Department report finding that workers want more sick leave and paid vacation while businesses want, well, less. But this paragraph seemed ominous:

Many businesses complained that the Labor Department's definition of a serious health condition enabling workers to take leave was unclear and too generous. Many companies also said their operations were hurt when workers with chronic conditions, like asthma or migraine headaches, took frequent leaves.

Employers have been complaining about the "chronic condition" clause for a long time. Now they finally get to put in a formal complaint. Presumably that means that the administration is looking into a way to make sure that workers with migraines are required to suck it up and keep working. In particular, the National Association of Manufacturers wants employers to have better access to the medical records of their employees--for the workers' own good, of course. At this point, it wouldn't be terribly shocking if the Labor Department was actually receptive to that idea.

In any case, it's possible that the NAM actually has a valid complaint about the "chronic condition" clause being abused. I don't really know. But surely, then, they'd be amenable to some sort of grand bargain in which that rule gets tightened (in some way that doesn't involve letting employers have detailed medical files of all their workers) in exchange for more paid leave. Oh, wait, no, they'd never agree to that.

--Bradford Plumer

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