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"Stay Home or Work Sick? Omicron Poses a Conundrum"

The Associated Press referenced research by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s WORLD Policy Analysis Center, led by Dr. Jody Heymann, distinguished professor of health policy and management and founding director of FSPH’s WORLD Policy Analysis Center, about paid family leave

Saturday, January 8, 2022

As the raging omicron variant of COVID-19 infects workers across the nation, millions of those whose jobs don’t provide paid sick days are having to choose between their health and their paycheck.

While many companies instituted more robust sick leave policies at the beginning of the pandemic, some of those have since been scaled back with the rollout of the vaccines, even though omicron has managed to evade the shots. Meanwhile, the current labor shortage is adding to the pressure of workers having to decide whether to show up to their job sick if they can’t afford to stay home.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” said Daniel Schneider, professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. “As staffing gets depleted because people are out sick, that means that those that are on the job have more to do and are even more reluctant to call in sick when they in turn get sick.”