Bullying leads to stress, and stress leads to health problems. Health problems can then eventually lead to poor work performance. At that point, workplace bullying targets can either:
- Take paid sick leave, which lets employees prevent, recover from, and manage illness
- File for workers compensation
- Take family medical leave
- Seek disability insurance
As of last year, Massachusetts employers are required to provide their employees with 10 sick days, still worse than Norway, Germany, the UK, and Japan (all offering up to 26 weeks) but better than the rest of the U.S., where there is no federal paid sick leave law or provision for replacing lost wages.
In a 2013 poll, the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) found that slightly more than half of respondents took no sick leave, leaving them vulnerable to health problems, poor work performance, and worsened personal relationships.
That means that nearly half of respondents took some form of sick leave.
Types of sick leave targets chose
Targets who took sick leave reported they were forced to choose between the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), disability, and workers compensation (WC).
FMLA. FMLA was the most popular, available to employees whose companies have 50 or more employees and used by 55 percent of those who took sick leave. FMLA users took:
- Voluntary paid (40%)
- Forced unpaid (25%)
- Forced paid (17%)
- Voluntary unpaid (17%)
Disability insurance. Nearly 34 percent of those who took sick leave used disability insurance. Those in this group took:
- Early retirement (45%) (difficult to achieve)
- Short-term disability (38%)
- Long-term disability (17%)
WC. Eleven percent of those who took sick leave used WC. In 76 percent of these case, employers forced employees to take WC. But in only 40 percent of cases, the WC was granted. While employers often see stress as a work injury, many states are adopting laws that prohibit psychological stress as a WC claim.
In the U.S., it’s perfectly legal for an employer to abuse an employee and cause them financial ruin because the financial safety net (a paid sick leave mandate) is not adequate. Individuals are left to correct a problem they did not invite or deserve.