In an age when some 40% of people have no sick leave at work, there's a big push to mandate employers to grant it across the country. Yet I think there's a better solution that doesn't require a government mandate.

In Central Florida, there has been a big to do about a county where there was a citizen initiative to institute mandatory paid sick leave.

But the governor has now blocked any local government in the state of Florida from requiring paid sick time. According to The Orlando Sentinel, the fight against the citizen initiative was led by Walt Disney and Darden Restaurants. They were apparently very upset they would be told they had to pay people who are sick.

I believe the situation calls for a common sense approach. Sure, there will always be people who look at a sick leave as other time paid off -- a mental health day or they partied too hard the prior night and decide to call out.

But what about in the event of an epidemic like an extreme flu outbreak or a SARS situation? I believe it's appropriate when an official like the Surgeon General declares a pandemic or national medical emergency, that employers should then freely grant their employees paid medical leave.

During cold and flu season, I often hear a lot of questions about "presenteeism," the idea of going into work even when you're sick. Are you supposed to go to work sick because if you don't, your boss will frown on you or fire you? People just don't know what to do.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 1 in 5 men call in and lie about being sick to play hooky. Women are more honest, with only about 1 in 7 doing the same.

Back during the swine flu scare, people were going to work sick because they were too worried about being fired or didn't get paid time off. So if they didn't go in, they didn't eat. This is a real dilemma. People either lie to stay out for no good reason or come in while sick and infect other people.

If you have paid sick leave or PTO (paid time off), use it. You are potentially being more loyal to your employer -- not less -- when you stay home and take the time to get better.

Being the martyr who comes in and spreads germs to show how tough you are is not a good idea. Your work performance may slip and you'll make mistakes. And you may even get your supervisor or manager sick. Who are they mad at then?


Clark's take:

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Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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