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The health advantages of sick days

The Jan. 14 editorial “A bad flu season” was correct that the nation should be preparing for flu outbreaks worse than the one we are now experiencing, but we must remember that paid sick days are a critical part of the solution. A key component of flu treatment and prevention, paid sick days reduce health-care costs by reducing contagion. They also strengthen the economy by helping to stabilize the workforce. Yet more than 40 percent of U.S. workers today cannot earn a single paid sick day.

We saw how serious this can be during the H1N1 pandemic. An estimated 7 million people caught the flu from co-workers, and people without paid sick days were at greater risk of exposure.

Adopting a national standard for paid sick days would not stop the flu, but it would mean that more people could stay home when they get it. It should be a high priority for Congress.

Debra L. Ness, Washington

The writer is president of the National Partnership for Women and Families.

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