Friends on Facebook are demanding that the Federal government (i.e., taxpayers) underwrite unlimited paid sick leave in order to stop the coronavirus plague.
This sounds reasonable. We don’t want an infected person coming into work at a restaurant and spreading the infection to 100 customers.
But, on the other hand, especially since our testing capabilities are so limited, wouldn’t this result in 100 percent of people with less-than-fun jobs disappearing from the workforce? Why take the risk of contact with hundreds of customers by working as a supermarket cashier when it is easy to say “I am experiencing some coronavirus symptoms and therefore, out of an abundance of caution, I am staying home to collect my Gov Sick Leave”? (Americans love nothing more than saying “out of an abundance of caution”!).
People who believe themselves to be suffering from a mild cause of COVID-19 aren’t supposed to go to the doctor or hospital, right? So the employer can’t ask for a doctor’s note.
If our policy dreams come true, will the result be a complete shutdown of the typical service business? Or, actually, almost every business. The only thing better than “work from home” is “play Xbox at home and get a 100 percent paycheck”!
Readers: Is there any possible way to design this so that people who do feel well (something no doctor can determine) will continue to work while ensuring that people who don’t feel well will stay home?
- Review of The Redistribution Recession, the effect on labor force participation when American workers were offered the deal of similar spending power for working versus not working