Stay home or work sick? Omicron poses conundrum

Coronavirus

FILE – A medical technician performs a nasal swab test on a motorist queued up in a line at a COVID-19 testing site near All City Stadium Dec. 30, 2021, in southeast Denver. Millions of workers whose jobs don’t provide paid sick days are having to choose between their health and their paycheck as the omicron variant of COVID-19 rages across the nation. While many companies instituted more robust sick leave policies at the beginning of the pandemic, those have since been scaled back with the rollout of the vaccines, even though the omicron variant has managed to evade them. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

(AP) — Millions of workers whose jobs don’t provide paid sick days are having to choose between their health and their paycheck as COVID-19 cases rise across the nation.

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 the omicron variant 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. Low-wage workers are especially vulnerable.

Only 33% of workers whose wages are at the bottom 10% get paid sick leave, compared with 95% in the top 10%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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