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Some Sick Leave Policies Healthier Than Others

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RALEIGH — Who called in sick where you work today? There's nothing wrong with calling in sick. The problem is a record number of employees are doing it without really being ill.

A national study shows the problem is costing companies millions of dollars each year.

For years, many companies gave employees a set number of sick days each year. If you didn't use them you would lose them. That's no longer the case.

Like thousands of Americans, Jason Bernstein has called in sick even though he was feeling just fine.

"Truthfully, I went to see a Stevie Nicks concert," says Bernstein.

When he really needed the time off after tearing a ligament in his leg, his company's sick policy really made him sick.

"Sick days, well you just didn't get sick days if you didn't go to work. You just didn't get paid," says Bernstein.

Many companies are altering their "sick" policies so employees don't misuse their days off.

Instead of losing the time, many companies roll sick days over to the next year.

Cary'sSAS Institutelets employees take the time when they need it. By providing a generous policy, they hope employees won't abuse the time off.

The state has another approach to using sick days.

When Carla Tutor needed four months off after surgery, her family and co-workers were able to donate their own sick time towards her recovery.

"I gave her 525 hours of my sick leave that enabled her to stay active on the payroll along with her co-workers there," says Patsy O'Neal, Tutor's mother.

Tutor realizes the value in sick days and it is one thing that is driving her to get well.

" "And it's real hard but I would like to thank everybody," says Tutor. "I hope that I can get well and come back and be able to get a whole lot of leave and if anybody were to need it, I hope that I can return the favor one day."

The state's shared sick leave policy is anonymous, meaning except for family members, the employee does not know who donated the time to their recovery.

Also if the employee does not use all of the time that was donated, it is returned back to the employees.

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Ericka Lewis, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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