Yesterday we took note of the mirror image of absenteeism, presenteeism. The concern here is that people will show up to work sick and if they are infectious, spread influenza or whatever else is going around. As we noted people have various reasons for working sick, not the least of which is that they cannot afford to “waste” a sick day in case they need the few they have for family emergencies (like a sick child) or simply because they don’t have paid sick leave and need the money. Almost half of US workers are in that position. So various proposals have been made to require paid sick leave for companies of a certain size. Needless to say neither the business community nor some commenters here are wild about the idea.
On the other hand, many of these same people have no trouble criticizing Indonesia for failing to pay adequate or sometimes any compensation to farmers and families they are telling that they must kill their backyard poultry or farm flocks. It’s not just Indonesia, eithr. The virus has now been found in poultry or wild birds in 52 countries. In all of them, culling has been ordered or recommended. A recent letter in CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases surveys the current compensation situation:
Preemptive culling creates a major concern with regard to compensation. In Nigeria, for example, affected farmers have yet to be compensated >50 million Nigerian Naira (>US$ 0.4 million) because of the ministry’s cash flow problems. On the other hand, US poultry farmers who participate in a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to prevent the spread of disease would be fully compensated for loss of poultry and equipment if even a low-pathogenic strain of avian influenza was found in the United States. This rule not only strengthens US protection against avian influenza but also minimizes any negative effect on the US poultry trade. (Kanamori and Jimba, Letter in Emerging Infectious Diseases, in text cites omitted)
Where should the money come from? In many countries the bill is bigger than the government can pay. International donors are making up some of the difference in some places, but there is a large gap remaining and with it the continuation of a potentially dangerous close contact of millions of people with millions of infected birds. It is now well understood that compliance with compulsory reporting and culling of infected birds is low when compensation is low.
In the US, the taxpayer will foot the bill if the raiser is in the USDA program (at least according to this Letter, although I couldn’t ascertain if it were in force already, how much of the US poultry population is covered or other details; if anyone knows, please leave a link in the Comments).
This seems like a prudent position for the USDA to take (although coverage is clearly critical; who is “in the program”?), but I cannot help making this observation. In the US we will have a mandatory paid sick leave policy for birds but not a mandatory paid sick leave policy for workers.
US sick leave policies are for the birds.