What Workers Should Know About Taking Paid Sick Time as Influenza and RSV Cases Surge

Amidst a nationwide increase in cases of viral infections, read on for what workers should know about taking time off work to care for themselves and their loved ones.
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Recently, throughout the U.S. there has been an increase in cases of viral infections, like the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). While both the flu and RSV are common respiratory viruses, both can cause serious health problems, especially for young children and older adults. This season in particular has proven particularly difficult for working parents and families who, along with rising cases of the flu and RSV, are dealing with increases in cases of other illnesses, such as COVID-19 and the common cold. Last month alone, over 100,000 workers in the US reportedly missed work due to illness-related child care problems. Many workers may have access to important paid sick leave protections to help them and their families weather this season.

Workers who work in any of the 34 jurisdictions throughout the country with paid sick time laws in effect—including a number of states with higher influenza rates, such as California, New Mexico, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York State—may have the right to earn paid sick time, which can be used to recover from physical or mental illness or injury or to seek preventive care. Importantly, workers covered by any paid sick time law can also use their sick time to help a family member recover from physical or mental illness or injury, or to help a family member seek preventive care. Thus, workers covered by the sick time laws in these jurisdictions are likely able to use their paid sick time if they or their family members (such as a parent or child) are sick with the flu, RSV, COVID-19, or the cold, or are being vaccinated against the flu or COVID-19.

Now that masking, social distancing, and other protective measures that were adopted during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic are less common throughout the U.S., viral infections such as the flu and RSV, which were not as prevalent during the peak of the pandemic, will become increasingly more common. A Better Balance will continue to work toward ensuring that workers throughout the country have access to paid sick time so that they can take time off work to care for themselves and their family members. For more information about your paid sick time rights, visit our Workplace Rights Hub or contact A Better Balance’s free and confidential legal helpline.

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