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Survey: Paid sick days are important to workers

Most large companies offer paid sick days to their employees, but 43 percent of the private work force didn't have them in 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are no federal or state laws mandating paid sick days, although Washington and San Francisco guarantee them.

A recent survey found that 82 percent of respondents considered paid sick leave a "very important" employee benefit. It ranked fourth after equal pay for equal work, a safe workplace and affordable health insurance — and ahead of retirement benefits, paid vacations and flex time.

And 77 percent of respondents said paid sick days were a "very important" labor standard for workers.

Half of respondents "agreed very strongly" that paid sick days were a "basic worker's right," and 75 percent "strongly favored" a law guaranteeing all workers a minimum number of paid sick days, although that number dropped to 66 percent after respondents heard various arguments for and against such a law.

The National Paid Sick Days Study was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago in a random telephone sampling of 1,493 adults in U.S. households from June 27 to July 31. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

No holiday from job search

Don't put your job hunting on hold over the holidays. Yes, the job market is stinky for some people right now, and a quick turnaround isn't likely. But there are two reasons job hunters should keep looking through December:

• Employers who expect to add staff in January — and recruiters tell me there are some — have their 2009 budgets in place and are interviewing for those positions.

• Many of your fellow job hunters, either out of general holiday busyness or frustration, will take the next few weeks off.

When fat attacks

We already expect the Christmastime 15. Add the emotional toll of job uncertainty and recession, and we've got a "double whammy" for likely weight gain this year, said Denise Martz, a professor of psychology who specializes in body image and obesity.

"A lot of individuals overeat when they're stressed in general," she said. "Holiday parties are such a tempting time to overdo."

To counteract stress-induced eating, Martz advises keeping a food diary to track how much you're consuming. Just being aware of your munching can help you find alternative remedies to anxiety. Dietitian Linda Arpino of Scarsdale, N.Y., recommends a hot shower or long walk instead of chocolate or candy.

It's also good to surround yourself with healthy snacks such as fruit, herbal tea, raw vegetables and small baggies of trail mix or dry cereal. Eating small amounts between meals helps keep you from overindulging on high-fat party food, Arpino said. Bring lunch from home if you can. And keep well-hydrated: "A false sense of hunger is triggered when you're not drinking enough," she said.

Eating too many sweets or high-sodium, high-fat foods has pitfalls other than extra pounds, reducing the reserves of long-term energy needed for coping with stress. Maintaining a healthful diet means you'll be better-equipped. "You're providing the body with what the body needs," said Arpino.

Compiled from Times wires

Survey: Paid sick days are important to workers 12/23/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 26, 2008 8:51pm]

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