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Old 03-09-2020, 07:18 PM
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Coronavirus, Sick Leave, and the Gig Economy


This article, a WaPo article about US business's hostility toward laws requiring sick leave, got me thinking about the topic.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WaPo
About 24 percent of U.S. workers, or more than 30 million people, lack access to paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, many of them are low-wage workers whose jobs involve working closely with the public — restaurant and retail workers, health-care aides — and this could conceivably make them virus “super spreaders.”
Laws that require sick pay don't always work:
Quote:
Even when states mandate sick pay, however, many workers can remain without it. Companies that hire people as “contractors” rather than “employees” say they are not obliged to offer sick pay.

Jordan Anderson, 44, an Instacart shopper in Portland, Ore., where the state requires employers to offer sick pay, is one example. Although Anderson works 40 to 50 hours a week picking up groceries and other items for Instacart customers, she is not entitled to paid sick leave.

Anderson said she cannot remember the last time she took a day off: not when she had the flu, or a pulled muscle in her back, or the several times a month she has debilitating migraines. More than once, she has vomited in the parking lot in the middle of a shift, then walked back into the supermarket to resume picking out groceries and delivering them to customers’ homes.
Which makes me wonder about the gig economy specifically. These fake-contractor positions (and no, I'm not interested in arguing with you about that wording, dude) are so profitable for employers in part because they allow employers to avoid so many worker protection laws, including sick leave.

As coronavirus spreads, what will gig workers do? Will Uber drivers and Lyft drivers stop driving if they become contagious? Can they afford to?

And what about restaurant workers? I had never even heard of the restaurant gig economy, but here you go:
Quote:
[Zia Sheikh, the subject of the article] is one of hundreds of thousands of manual laborers pioneering a new economic era for his profession — as a gig worker signed into Pared, an app restaurants use for on-demand hires. Sheikh works in the New York City metropolitan area, where 64,130 restaurant cooks make up the nation’s largest such labor pool, as measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2018 — all earning an average of $15.34 an hour
As bad as worker protections are for restaurant employees, at least they're legally employees. Do we really think that sick Pared "contractors" are going to keep themselves off a vital gig because of that cough and fever?

As a debate, I have a couple of points:

1) The gig economy, in its efforts to sidestep worker protections, is about to bite us in the ass; and
2) We need to figure out a way to extend worker protections, including sick leave policies, to gig workers,
3) like, yesterday.
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Old 03-09-2020, 07:25 PM
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Uber and Lyft: Fine, We'll Pay Workers Quarantined With Coronavirus
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I was social distancing before it was cool.
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Old 03-09-2020, 07:29 PM
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That is potentially good news, undercut by the end of the article:
Quote:
Covering workers who expect they may have been infected for tests and check-ups could be a huge benefit to catching the virus earlier on—rather than when an individual is already showing symptoms, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says can appear as many as 14 days after exposure. But, again, this system would be reliant on some good faith sick pay for workers who have been diagnosed or quarantined.

But gig work employers have not historically shown themselves to operate in good faith—quite the opposite, which is why we’re in this mess to begin with. It does appear that these companies realize the potential liability they may have on their hands if they don’t address the issue quickly. Let’s just hope for everyone’s sake that’s sooner rather than later.
I really hope this gets fixed, but I don't trust companies to have a reliable fix that's self-imposed. For it to work, fake-contractor employees need to have a high level of trust that the companies won't screw them over.
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Old 03-10-2020, 02:45 PM
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Much of the effort to redefine gig workers as employees is driven by the example of the Uber and Lyft driver - so this might be just PR to keep the backlash against this mode of work from increasing. Not to mention the backlash if a sick driver infects a lot of passengers.
At least it is PR with benefit from those at risk.
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Old 03-10-2020, 03:50 PM
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How long is most paid sick leave, tho? Considering that so many Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, it seems to me that even people with paid sick leave would soon face the crunch of "go to work or be homeless".
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Old 03-10-2020, 03:53 PM
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It looks like five to nine days is average, although there are plenty of folks who get fewer, and some who get more. For a disease with a 2-week period of contagion, that's clearly inadequate.

I keep saying, the US has some unique features of its health care system that are damn near perfect for the coronavirus to spread in.
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Old 03-10-2020, 05:56 PM
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Please explain why you think that people should be paid for NOT working???
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Old 03-10-2020, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
Please explain why you think that people should be paid for NOT working???
It's hard to say no to please, Mo Willems teaches us, but sometimes it's important. No thanks.
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Old 03-10-2020, 06:09 PM
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Please explain why you think that people should be paid for NOT working???
People who don't get paid when they are sick often can't afford to "self-quarantine"; they'll show up for work when they are contagious because they need the paycheck. That means they can spread their germs to the people they come in contact with: co-workers, customers, other passengers on the bus or the subway, etc. If they are infected with COVID19, then based on current information, two to four percent of the people to whom they spread their germs will die. Why do you think that is less costly (for their customers, for their employers, for public health officials, or for the economy as a whole) than paying them to keep their germs in their own living spaces?
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Old 03-10-2020, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
Please explain why you think that people should be paid for NOT working???
Next time your waiter coughs on your food, you should go find the manager and thank him for keeping prices down by making the server come in sick.
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Old 03-10-2020, 06:16 PM
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People who don't get paid when they are sick often can't afford to "self-quarantine"; they'll show up for work when they are contagious because they need the paycheck. That means they can spread their germs to the people they come in contact with: co-workers, customers, other passengers on the bus or the subway, etc. If they are infected with COVID19, then based on current information, two to four percent of the people to whom they spread their germs will die. Why do you think that is less costly (for their customers, for their employers, for public health officials, or for the economy as a whole) than paying them to keep their germs in their own living spaces?
When I worked for the Bell System our center had a lunch and ceremony for those who weren't out sick once the entire year. I qualified a couple of times. You got a small gift certificate for the internal Telephone Pioneer store.
They finally figured out that encouraging people to come in sick to get recognition was not a good idea.
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Old 03-10-2020, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
Please explain why you think that people should be paid for NOT working???
  • So they don't infect those nearby, bosses included.
  • So they regain health enough to resume work.
  • Because workers are assets, not liabilities.
  • Because we'd rather avoid underclass revolts.
  • 1%ers are paid not to work; why not everyone?
Unemployment is a record lows. Real wages are now at 1973 levels, with ~600% inflation since then. That means vast numbers of jobs don't provide a living wage. These pittance workers mostly don't receive paid medical leave so they're working sick. Productivity? Fuck that.

Last edited by RioRico; 03-10-2020 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 03-10-2020, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
Please explain why you think that people should be paid for NOT working???
On a base level I agree with you, but the horse is out of the submarine and has been beaten to death through the screen door.

Businesses have been regulated to death by a myriad of other things; requiring sick pay would be about #78 on my bitch list.

However, I do agree with the sentiment. If a worker comes to work sick because he or she cannot afford to miss a day, then that is not the fault of the business but the worker. The business owes the worker no more than a market rate for work actually performed.

That being said, so many businesses complain when a worker calls in sick, sometimes accusing the worker of covering up a hangover. When that happens, the business is at fault. Businesses need to understand that they are not employing robots, but humans who will get sick from time to time. But the flip side of that is that if workers demand too much, they may find their jobs replaced by robots.
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Old 03-10-2020, 07:28 PM
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To be clear, if someone thinks debating whether sick leave is a good idea make any kind of goddamned sense whatsoever, that'd be a great topic for a different thread. The questions worth exploring here, IMO, are whether and how we can extend sick leave protections to gig workers, so that we don't have Coronavirus chefs and chauffeurs.
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Old 03-10-2020, 08:08 PM
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In Canada, all provinces have sick leave... but only one has paid sick leave, and it's only one day. Sick leave is otherwise unpaid, but you are "guaranteed" not to lose your job over it. I used to have a crappy job where I saw someone get fired for being sick all the time (legitimately so) but... it took a long time and the firing was officially for another reason.

Some unionized jobs have paid sick leave. Teachers get a lot of days (and use almost all of them), and used to have a sick leave bank, though I believe that's ended in many provinces. Where I work the sick days roll over into a "bank" but I will not be paid out of unused sick days when I retire (or get fired)... it's unionized, so I'm lucky.

This does not apply to the gig economy here. I have never participated in it, so I would have to ask... if an Uber driver takes a week off sick, can they remain an Uber driver? Otherwise I'm not seeing how it's very different than for a (typical) Canadian worker.
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Old 03-10-2020, 09:21 PM
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US residents opposed to universal health coverage and sick leave benefits do NOT have US interests of the mind but are effectively enemy assets seeking a sicker, weaker, poorer nation. Look in the mirror. You know who you are.
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Old 03-10-2020, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
To be clear, if someone thinks debating whether sick leave is a good idea make any kind of goddamned sense whatsoever, that'd be a great topic for a different thread. The questions worth exploring here, IMO, are whether and how we can extend sick leave protections to gig workers, so that we don't have Coronavirus chefs and chauffeurs.
So for the purposes of this thread, nobody can argue that gig workers should not get paid sick leave because nobody else does either is not an acceptable answer to you?

I'm a small business owner. Who pays me when I'm sick? I don't get sick pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, etc. I budget out of my projected take so that I can take off those days. No reason why workers shouldn't either, especially when you know, they were told that there was no sick pay when they took the job.

Should I pay the neighbor kid who mows my lawn money when he's sick or it's Christmas?

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US residents opposed to universal health coverage and sick leave benefits do NOT have US interests of the mind but are effectively enemy assets seeking a sicker, weaker, poorer nation. Look in the mirror. You know who you are.
Enemy assets? Jesus, you guys are extreme and just stare at the wall and wonder why oh why you don't win elections. Your post is why. Will you pay for my sick time and holiday time? Does that make you an enemy asset if you don't?
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Old 03-10-2020, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I'm a small business owner. Who pays me when I'm sick? I don't get sick pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, etc. I budget out of my projected take so that I can take off those days. No reason why workers shouldn't either, especially when you know, they were told that there was no sick pay when they took the job.
...I'm a small business owner. I see it as my responsibility to both pay my staff a living wage and to pay them sick pay if they are sick and need to take time off work. Are you saying as a small business owner you don't do either of these things?
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:00 PM
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...I'm a small business owner. I see it as my responsibility to both pay my staff a living wage and to pay them sick pay if they are sick and need to take time off work. Are you saying as a small business owner you don't do either of these things?
I do both of these things. However, that is not my responsibility by any definition of the term. I owe them a market wage for services rendered. I am not their father or their caretaker.

Who pays when you are sick?
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:21 PM
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I do both of these things. However, that is not my responsibility by any definition of the term. I owe them a market wage for services rendered. I am not their father or their caretaker.
...I didn't ask if you paid a market wage. I asked if you paid a living wage. Do you understand the difference?

Quote:
Who pays when you are sick?
You've already answered that question. That doesn't change any of my obligations to the people that work for me. They don't share the same ability to ramp up sales if need be to cover short-falls in projected revenue or to cut back if required if the business isn't going to make budget.

I just finished sharing this story in another thread. In 2016 I got sick and I had to completely change my business model in order to keep the business going. My cashflow remained the same but my margins dropped in half. But the business kept going and this year is on track to be the best that I've ever had. So this isn't a theoretical question for me. I continued to pay living (not market) rates to the people that worked for me even though my margins had tightened. That's just the right thing to do.

And in face of the coronavirus what we should be doing as business owners should be pretty clear as well.
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Who pays when you are sick?
Indeed! Exactly why we need serious health care reform towards a more international style system, so that individuals no longer need to ask themselves this question constantly, and business owners no longer need to feel that they have to abet a public health crisis to stay afloat!

Last edited by Leaper; 03-10-2020 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:37 PM
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Regarding the OP's question, the problem of infected workers turning up because they need a paycheck might be, in an unfortunate way, self-correcting. As the disease spreads, there might be little or no work for many of these gig workers anyway. After all, if Coronavirus hits your city hard, are you going to be going out to restaurants, or booking a ride to be driven around in a stranger's car that might have had ten passengers before you today?

Demand for these services is going to dry up very quickly in areas known to be infected. The question then is: how do these folks get by in the days or weeks or months until business returns to (something like) normal? Should their employer companies be responsible for them? The government? If so, which level of government? Is this actually a question of "sick leave" at all, or a bigger question of social welfare policy more generally?
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Where I work the sick days roll over into a "bank" but I will not be paid out of unused sick days when I retire (or get fired)... it's unionized, so I'm lucky.
That's pretty much my situation. I just logged into my HR account to check my accrued sick leave, and it's currently 708 hours, or somewhere close to 18 weeks. I'm in a unionized state government job.

Our job also allows us to donate a certain amount of sick leave to other employees who suffer catastrophic illness or injury and use up all of their available leave. Every so often the university sends out a Catastrophic Leave Donation request on behalf of an employee, and from my understanding those requests are almost always filled up incredibly quickly.

It will be interesting to see what happens to that system if the university is hit hard by Coronavirus, because there might be a lot of people out for an extended period, and people might also become more reluctant to donate in case they end up needing to use their leave for themselves.
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If a worker comes to work sick because he or she cannot afford to miss a day, then that is not the fault of the business but the worker. The business owes the worker no more than a market rate for work actually performed.
Fair enough

And the worker owes the business no more than work actually performed for a market rate of pay. The worker doesn't owe the business any moral or ethical duty except to do his or her job. So if you don't offer sick pay, and an infectious worker comes in to work and gets you, all of your staff, and some of your customers sick, then you have no cause to complain. They were just doing exactly what you contracted with them to do - a day's work for a day's pay.

The fact that this might end up costing you far more than a few sick days' pay for your worker is just one of the risks you run in your business. I assume you're fine with that trade-off?
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
If a worker comes to work sick because he or she cannot afford to miss a day, then that is not the fault of the business but the worker. The business owes the worker no more than a market rate for work actually performed.
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I do both of these things. However, that is not my responsibility by any definition of the term. I owe them a market wage for services rendered. I am not their father or their caretaker.
Ignoring the fact that you've assigned blame to the worker for being sick, for the moment, lemme ask you: who told you what your responsibilities as a business owner to your employees were? Your father? A professor in college? The people at the business license office? Where did you get your information on these responsibilities?

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 03-10-2020 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 03-11-2020, 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I owe them a market wage for services rendered. I am not their father or their caretaker.
Do you consider your employees assets or liabilities?

Quote:
Who pays when you are sick?
That's what a social safety net is for.

A little history. Chancellor von Bismarck built the first modern social safety net, not because he loved filthy peasants and proles, but to:
  • Steal an issue from the Socialists.
  • Grow a healthier, stronger, more productive populace that paid the Kaiser more taxes.
  • Dissuade the underclass from revolting and slaughtering aristos.
Germany's interests then weren't the interests of France, Russia, Britain, etc, just as USA interests now aren't our enemies' interests.

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Enemy assets? Jesus, you guys are extreme...
Americans who push for a sicker, weaker, poorer nation certainly fit the bill.
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Old 03-11-2020, 05:16 AM
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Back in the 1980's and 1990's, the IRS imposed rules forcing people who were really contractors — taxi drivers and engineering consultants — to be legally treated by their employers for tax purpose as employees. Has this reversed, with people who really are employees now being treated, at employer's whim, as contractors?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Originally Posted by slash2k View Post
Quote:
=D'Anconia]
Please explain why you think that people should be paid for NOT working???
People who don't get paid when they are sick often can't afford to "self-quarantine"; they'll show up for work when they are contagious because they need the paycheck. That means they can spread their germs to the people they come in contact with: co-workers, customers, other passengers on the bus or the subway, etc. If they are infected with COVID19, then based on current information, two to four percent of the people to whom they spread their germs will die. Why do you think that is less costly (for their customers, for their employers, for public health officials, or for the economy as a whole) than paying them to keep their germs in their own living spaces?
I don't think you understand Mr. D'Anconia's question, which was not about practicality, public health or economics, but about morality. Why reward the lazy workers who anyway probably got the virus by fraternizing with the wrong kind of people?
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Old 03-11-2020, 05:56 AM
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So for the purposes of this thread, nobody can argue that gig workers should not get paid sick leave because nobody else does either is not an acceptable answer to you?
Correct. The thread is about the intersection of three things. Taking an extreme position on one of those things in order to avoid addressing its intersection with the other two is leading this thread well away from the OP, which is really frustrating. By all means start your own thread about how sick leave is a tool of The Man or whatever, but I humbly ask you to keep that nonsense out of this thread.

Last edited by Left Hand of Dorkness; 03-11-2020 at 05:56 AM.
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:30 AM
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Currently, there aren't that many giggers, if any, that we know have this virus. There are millions being affected by it now though. In the US at least. I'm in San Francisco this week and the place is dead. I took one taxi (they pay to work in most places I've lived) and one Uber, and they both said there's negligible business. The restaurants are empty. The hotels are empty, their ballrooms shuddered. Conventions canceled. They all hire temporary backfill for busy times. But not this month.

I do wonder how sick leave policies affect contagion in general. Say separate (from vacation) paid sick leave vs pooled PTO vs unpaid leave vs nothing vs fire anyone who dares show up to the office with a runny nose. It's not just about exposing coworkers; I ride WMATA to work when I'm home. The "should" question is a policy/philosophical issue; I'm wondering if there's any real science on the topic.
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:34 AM
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A cursory Google scholar search shows it's a popular topic, although not necessarily addressing how I framed it.
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Old 03-11-2020, 08:09 AM
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Please explain why you think that people should be paid for NOT working???
Because it may be in the greater interests of others, including the employer, to look beyond the bottom line that's right in front of them. If Uber drivers are driving around town and infecting riders, either because they have the virus or because other riders have it, that's not really helping Uber. If you make hourly wage earners go to work when they're ill with a potentially fatal virus, you're not helping the company; you're hurting it.

I know, I know - let companies themselves decide what's in their best interests. No, because people have to earn money somehow and there are interests beyond the company's interests, and governments should protect those interests. And in the end, even the corporations benefit from something that they were forced to do over their own objections.

Last edited by asahi; 03-11-2020 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 03-11-2020, 08:18 AM
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I am not going to say that gig workers shouldn't get sick pay - but I don't think it's necessarily practical for it to be provided through "employers".

As far as the way to provide protection goes - the first step is to make sure that people are appropriately classified as employees or independent contractors. If someone is working a regularly scheduled 40 hour week in a warehouse, they're an employee. Maybe they're employed by the company running the warehouse or maybe by a staffing company, but they aren't an IC. Then we have to pass laws requiring employers to provide sick leave ( an uphill battle) Then to provide sick leave to even those who truly are IC , we need a state-run system like disability insurance or unemployment that can accommodate multiple "employers" - Maybe we allow employers to use this system as well.

But what none of this addresses is a large ( maybe larger) problem )- the reluctance of people who do have adequate sick leave/PTO to "waste" it on a self-quarantine when they have no symptoms or staying out for a week or two with what appears to be a cold. People where I work get 13 sick days per year. They can ( and many have ) accumulate up to 200 days of sick leave ( separate from vacation) - and still I hear people saying they will not self-quarantine unless they are given additional sick time.
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Old 03-11-2020, 08:29 AM
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I don't think you understand Mr. D'Anconia's question, which was not about practicality, public health or economics, but about morality. Why reward the lazy workers who anyway probably got the virus by fraternizing with the wrong kind of people?
How moral is it to encourage, if not mandate, that people come to work sick and knowingly spread contagion?
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Old 03-11-2020, 08:57 AM
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How moral is it to encourage, if not mandate, that people come to work sick and knowingly spread contagion?
It is possible to not provide paid sick leave while simultaneously discouraging or forbidding contageous people from coming in.
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Old 03-11-2020, 08:57 AM
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I'm another small business owner not giving your employees sick leave is crazy. I don't want them coming to work sick because if the office comes down with something then I really am screwed. Right now the business pays me when I don't work just like it pays my other employees if everyone is out sick then no one gets paid and we're out of business.

If you aren't getting paid when you take vacation or sick time as the owner of the company then you've got a really shitty business model. Keeping your employees productive is what allows them to generate work product to bring in money. Sure I'm better at what we do then any of my employees and the certainly fuck off more when I'm not around so productivity goes down when i out but they still do well enough that we're able to pay our bills.
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Old 03-11-2020, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
...Mr. D'Anconia's question... was not about practicality, public health or economics, but about morality. Why reward the lazy workers who anyway probably got the virus by fraternizing with the wrong kind of people?
Because sick people infect healthy people and thus weaken the nation. If morality is at stake, shoot all sick people - problem solved, morality satisfied. If national interests are at stake, support the populace - y'know, that "We, the People" crowd. ~333 million of us.

But for the greedygutz who view people as liabilities, not assets, "We, the People" do not exist. America consists of the owners and the owned. The owned aren't even valuable farm animals whose well-being is important, just bothersome debris, mostly the wrong kind of people. Not rich? Their own fault. Not healthy? Their own fault. Peons, peasants.

The implicit "morality" mentioned: I'm in it for ME and fuck everyone else. How saintly!
  #35  
Old 03-11-2020, 01:47 PM
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It is possible to not provide paid sick leave while simultaneously discouraging or forbidding contageous people from coming in.
That's true. But then it comes back to how those unpaid sick people can still manage to pay their rent. I'm not necessarily saying that the employer has to do it, but in our economy somehow, someway, bills must always continue to be paid. I think it kind of brings us back to the UBI issue.
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Old 03-11-2020, 01:49 PM
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...I'm a small business owner. I see it as my responsibility to both pay my staff a living wage and to pay them sick pay if they are sick and need to take time off work. Are you saying as a small business owner you don't do either of these things?
...come to think of it, we don't offer paid sick leave for our part-time nurses. But I certainly won't fire anybody if they feel the need to self-quarantine due to the virus. And I'm very confident we will force them to stay home if sick.

An interesting moral dilemma we have here, which I have never before noticed.

~Max

Last edited by Max S.; 03-11-2020 at 01:52 PM. Reason: "paid"
  #37  
Old 03-11-2020, 01:55 PM
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...come to think of it, we don't offer paid sick leave for our part-time nurses. But I certainly won't fire anybody if they feel the need to self-quarantine due to the virus. And I'm very confident we will force them to stay home if sick.

An interesting moral dilemma we have here, which I have never before noticed.

~Max
If one of my nurses came to me and said, "shit Max, I'm sick and I can't come in for like two weeks." "Ah, that sucks. We'll cover for you, get well soon." "Actually, it more than sucks. I don't have enough money to provide for basic needs, what will I do..."

I would probably try and work out some sort of interest-free employee advance. We do that every now and again when employees fall on especially hard times.

~Max
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Old 03-11-2020, 04:18 PM
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As a debate, I have a couple of points:

1) The gig economy, in its efforts to sidestep worker protections, is about to bite us in the ass; and
2) We need to figure out a way to extend worker protections, including sick leave policies, to gig workers,
3) like, yesterday.
I think it's more than gig workers, but I'll focus on that as that is what you want to talk about. I'm unsure what can be done, to be honest. My gut feeling is that it will have to be some sort of publicly funded initiative, unless you are trying to drive the companies doing this out of business, which isn't really going to help solve the issue, but will only make you feel better. There are reasons this sort of thing took off and why the companies who went this route have been relatively successful as opposed to traditional companies that did this in the past. But leaving that aside, if you REALLY want to solve this, it would need to be some sort of publicly funded initiative, perhaps tied to this particular virus, or maybe an emergency plan that can be activated going forward that if an outbreak gets to a certain level, the government will pay anyone (or anyone without sick leave, though that's an issue too) if they have been quarantined for 21 days or whatever is required, pending them being tested to resume work.

That brings us to the non-gig workers who actually do get sick leave. The problem here is that a lot of workers are in an yearn and burn cycle, or in some cases it's PTO (so it's sick AND vacation bundled together). In any case, most places I've worked at (in the US) give only 2 weeks of sick, if they even give a separate category at all (a lot of places are PTO or Paid Time Off). In this case, let's say they do get hit up for a 21 day quarantine. Even if they have all of their sick leave, they won't have enough time off. In some companies they allow you to borrow leave forward, but in many they don't. Don't have the time off? Well, you get leave without pay or use vacation, assuming you have that. That's going to be tough, especially for single parents. Consider...what if someone at their kids school is quarantined with the virus? They are going to shut the school down. What do parents do? Then, after that 21 days or whatever, what happens if they then get it themselves?

There is a lot to consider in this, and it's more than the gig economy that is going to be affected. And, sadly, I don't think many places are actually thinking about this stuff or planning for what if scenarios.
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  #39  
Old 03-11-2020, 07:49 PM
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It is possible to not provide paid sick leave while simultaneously discouraging or forbidding contageous people from coming in.
It's possible, but it's unlikely to be very effective. If you urge people to do X while providing them with a strong financial incentive to do not-X, the proportion who respond by doing X is likely to be signficantly reduced.
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:53 PM
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If one of my nurses came to me and said, "shit Max, I'm sick and I can't come in for like two weeks." "Ah, that sucks. We'll cover for you, get well soon." "Actually, it more than sucks. I don't have enough money to provide for basic needs, what will I do..."

I would probably try and work out some sort of interest-free employee advance. We do that every now and again when employees fall on especially hard times.

~Max
And your custodian overhears that conversation, and knowing that he's barely making ends meet each month, he makes sure he has his cough drops ready and hides his illness as long as he can. An interest-free advance isn't gonna work for him.

Sure, it raises everyone's risk, but he's not going to put his family on the street as a preventative measure.
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Old 03-11-2020, 08:09 PM
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That brings us to the non-gig workers who actually do get sick leave. The problem here is that a lot of workers are in an yearn and burn cycle, or in some cases it's PTO (so it's sick AND vacation bundled together).
Is there a particular problem with PTO? Personally, I prefer PTO over having separate vacation and sick days.
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:18 PM
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Is there a particular problem with PTO? Personally, I prefer PTO over having separate vacation and sick days.
You are probably like me and rather healthy so its wonderful to get PTO you get extra vacation days without worrying about faking sick. On the other hand it creates situations where you've already booked a vacation and then get the flu and are presented with the choice of canceling your vacation because you don't have enough vacation or going to work with the flu.

I really like 4 weeks of vacation per year to keep my head in the game. If my choice was between going to work sick or blow a vacation I'm taking dayquil and sitting at my desk every time and that sort of defeats the purpose of sick time. So now as an employer I have them in separate buckets plus I don't have to pay out sick time when you quit or get fired.
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
And your custodian overhears that conversation, and knowing that he's barely making ends meet each month, he makes sure he has his cough drops ready and hides his illness as long as he can. An interest-free advance isn't gonna work for him.

Sure, it raises everyone's risk, but he's not going to put his family on the street as a preventative measure.
I'm the only administrative-only staff. Everyone else has constant patient contact. If anybody willingly covers up an illness, that is a severe risk to patients with immunodeficiencies and grounds for immediate termination.

I can see your point but the nature of our work does not allow me to excuse deception and risks to patients health due to personal finances. If an employee can't afford to even pay back an interest-free loan, we can try and work out some odd jobs after hours or something. Deception is crossing a bright line, triply so given the circumstances.

~Max
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:22 PM
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It's possible, but it's unlikely to be very effective. If you urge people to do X while providing them with a strong financial incentive to do not-X, the proportion who respond by doing X is likely to be signficantly reduced.
It's effective if you fire anyone who coughs. I don't think this is necessarily good policy mind you.

Last edited by Ruken; 03-11-2020 at 09:24 PM.
  #45  
Old 03-11-2020, 09:30 PM
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That's true. But then it comes back to how those unpaid sick people can still manage to pay their rent. I'm not necessarily saying that the employer has to do it, but in our economy somehow, someway, bills must always continue to be paid. I think it kind of brings us back to the UBI issue.
Currently it's not the sick people who can't pay their rent. Anyone who makes their living off of events, hospitality, etc. Is already feeling it.
I posted in another thread that the bartender at my restaurant tonight told me they're working with half staff now. The hotel is empty (which means I was able to actually get a room at an allowable rate), ballrooms closed. The convention center has everything cancelled. The taxi and uber drivers have no business. I chatted with a guy who promotes parties. He has no business.

This is already bad and getting worse
  #46  
Old 03-12-2020, 06:00 AM
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...I didn't ask if you paid a market wage. I asked if you paid a living wage. Do you understand the difference?
No, because their right-wing ideology does not allow them to acknowledge that the concept of living wage even exists.
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Old 03-12-2020, 06:39 AM
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No, because their right-wing ideology does not allow them to acknowledge that the concept of living wage even exists.
It's somewhat a pointless question; one person's living wage is another's poverty wage, as it's defined by household structure. My employer's obligation to me is to meet the terms of my employment agreement. That doesn't change if I choose to have another kid. My obligation to take care of myself and my family changes though.

Living wage, per the MIT calculator, surpasses $40/h for some families where I live. And there's no theoretical celling for it, just like there isn't a celling for the official poverty thresholds. So unless you know the specifics of each employee's household, the answer to that question can never be "yes".
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Old 03-12-2020, 03:40 PM
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It's somewhat a pointless question; one person's living wage is another's poverty wage, as it's defined by household structure. My employer's obligation to me is to meet the terms of my employment agreement. That doesn't change if I choose to have another kid. My obligation to take care of myself and my family changes though.

Living wage, per the MIT calculator, surpasses $40/h for some families where I live. And there's no theoretical celling for it, just like there isn't a celling for the official poverty thresholds. So unless you know the specifics of each employee's household, the answer to that question can never be "yes".
...the world doesn't revolve around the MIT calculator and it isn't the only way to calculate the Living Wage. In New Zealand, for example, the living wage for 2019 was set at 21.15. That's the benchmark for Living Wage accredited employers. That isn't a variable rate that takes into account "household structures".

Why is that important? Because the argument that UltraVires is making is that employees should be taking responsibility for setting aside money for sick pay themselves and if they can't do it then "its their own damn fault."

I would suggest that in order for an employee to be able to do this at the very least they would have to be earning the Living Wage. Anything less than the living wage would be almost impossible by definition. The Federally mandated minimum wage in America hasn't changed in 10 years. Gig economy workers have it even worse: often (worldwide) being paid below the minimum wage.

This, of course, is all by design. The entire premise of the gig economy is that it is part of the "tech industry" and that workers in the industry aren't really "workers at all." Its the worlds biggest boondoggle rivalling the dot.com bubble in the 90's and the entire industry (quite possibly because of this latest crisis) is at risk of a massive collapse.

But to put it simply: it would be a struggle for someone on the Living Wage to be able to put aside two weeks wages to cover them in case they were sick. It would be nearly impossible for most people working in the gig economy to do the same. The numbers don't lie.
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Old 03-12-2020, 04:03 PM
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Why is that important? Because the argument that UltraVires is making is that employees should be taking responsibility for setting aside money for sick pay themselves and if they can't do it then "its their own damn fault."

I would suggest that in order for an employee to be able to do this at the very least they would have to be earning the Living Wage. Anything less than the living wage would be almost impossible by definition. The Federally mandated minimum wage in America hasn't changed in 10 years. Gig economy workers have it even worse: often (worldwide) being paid below the minimum wage.

This, of course, is all by design. The entire premise of the gig economy is that it is part of the "tech industry" and that workers in the industry aren't really "workers at all." Its the worlds biggest boondoggle rivalling the dot.com bubble in the 90's and the entire industry (quite possibly because of this latest crisis) is at risk of a massive collapse.
I don't consider "gig economy workers" to be employees, therefore I'm with UltraVires in saying it would be unfair to hold employers accountable. Contrast with the part-time employees I described before, where it's totally on me if they aren't making a minimum wage.

Let's say I want to hire a cleaning service. I give them square footage, location, etc. They give me a quote. I take the cheapest reasonable quote. It's not my fault if these contractors are selling themselves short. If they take home less than the minimum wage, guess what? I'm not the employer, and I'm not on the hook.

I do have a moral obligation to pay a minimum, but not every business will agree with me on that. And there's nothing I can do if it never comes to my attention that a contractor can't make ends meet.

Sure, you could try and implement a "minimum wage" for gig workers. But good luck designing a law that applies to the people who contract for their services. There are just too many different kinds of jobs to legislate for. What are you going to do, try and write a law based on the assumption that it takes someone one hour to clean five hundred square feet? Different people take different amounts of time to do their jobs. There's a quality difference, too. What about the cost of supplies? You know, some things are harder to clean than others. You can't make hard and fast rules with all of these variables.

My point is that if the worker is self-employed, as is the case with gig workers (unless I'm wrong here), there's no use in trying to protect them with a minimum wage law.

~Max
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Old 03-12-2020, 04:12 PM
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...the world doesn't revolve around the MIT calculator and it isn't the only way to calculate the Living Wage. In New Zealand, for example, the living wage for 2019 was set at 21.15. That's the benchmark for Living Wage accredited employers. That isn't a variable rate that takes into account "household structures".

Why is that important? Because the argument that UltraVires is making is that employees should be taking responsibility for setting aside money for sick pay themselves and if they can't do it then "its their own damn fault."

I would suggest that in order for an employee to be able to do this at the very least they would have to be earning the Living Wage. Anything less than the living wage would be almost impossible by definition.
Of course it's possible. The New Zealand number is arbitrary and quite frankly wrong if it's static for all households and locations. That living wage isn't enough for many people but is more than enough for others. I saved far more than two weeks of expenses while making much less. Have three kids? It's not enough. And if I need more, it's my responsibility to earn more.
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