‘Sick days’ disappear at more workplaces

    A battle over paid sick leave raged in Philadelphia City Council this week. Council voted for a bill to require most employers to offer paid sick time, but the measure could still be vetoed by Mayor Nutter.

    Recently, though, more and more companies are actually doing away with sick time, at least in name.

    They are not ending paid sick time entirely — just increasingly offering a lump sum of paid time off instead of separate pools of vacation, sick, and personal days. The policy is attractive to Millennials, said Bruce Elliott, at the Society for Human Resource Management, because they value flexibility in work schedules.

    “It does make an organization more competitive, ” Elliott said. “If you can tell a candidate, yeah, we offer four weeks of time off, they’re going to compare that to the more traditional organization that says yes, we offer two weeks of vacation time, two weeks of sick time.”

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    According to surveys done by Elliot’s organization, the number of companies offering paid time off increased from 42 percent in 2009 to 51 percent in 2012.

    Elliot has implemented the model at two workplaces. He said healthy employees like the added flexibility, but those who were often sick saw it as a downgrade to their benefits since ‘sick days’ were being done away with.

    Temple human resources professor Steven Pyser said the move is part of a trend of employees demanding more flexibility as they are asked to do more with less.

    “You’re giving an employee an opportunity to have control over an aspect of the employment relationship that traditionally they wouldn’t have,” Pyser said.

    With paid time off policies, employees can use their set number of days off for any purpose.

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