Have the Flu? You Could Soon Be Paid to Stay Home

Schakolad owner DeRima Johnson
Schakolad owner DeRima Johnson

by: Kristen Guilfoos
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - If you have the H1N1 flu, you could soon be paid to stay home from work.

We've been hearing it from health officials for months now... The best way to stop the flu from spreading is to follow one simple rule... If you're sick, stay home. And now, Congress is echoing that message.

Sherion McCoy has worked at Schakolad in Amarillo for almost two years. "I decorate the store and I decorate chocolate and I make lots of pretty packages."

Luckily, Sherion has not yet caught the flu this season, but if she did catch it, or had to stay home with sick kids who have the flu, this new bill going through congress would require her employer to pay her to stay home for up to five days.

Her employer, Schakolad owner DeRima Johnson says, "It would really hurt productivity and personal service because I couldn't replace the person that had to take off and I had to pay while they were off with somebody to do the work because I have to watch my overhead."

But slower customer service wouldn't be the only problem... She said she would also have to consider making drastic cuts. "I would have to lay somebody off or really cut hours because the more they intrude, the more they have to cut back."

Her opposition to this legislation is not unique. I spoke with several other business owners on the phone today who told me the same thing.

Many said they take care of their employees already on a case by case basis, so they don't need the government telling them what to do.

It's estimated that close to 50 million Americans don't get paid sick leave, forcing many of them to make tough choices between staying healthy and making ends meet if they catch the flu.