The Hidden Cost of Vaccines: Employee Sick Days

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Is it just me or does it seem like everyone is taking a day or two or three off as a result of the side effects that they experience after their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination? It’s become a cultural norm and even a rite of passage in many ways- this recovery time. It’s been reported that more than 50 percent of people experience side effects after their second dose. These side effects include fatigue, headache, pain at the injection site and more. Personally, I was fatigued after the first dose, and then down for 2+ days after the second. And, it seems like every time I turn around, someone else that I talk to is taking at least a day of two off (due to the side effects) as well.

Are businesses paying the price for these sick days, though? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the average cost of sick days to employers was $0.45 per employee hour in March 2020. So, let’s do the math. Imagine your company has 5,000 employees and half of your employees are calling in sick for two days as a result of these side effects. That’s 2,500 x 16 hours x .45 for a whopping total of $18,000 per business.

But, we can do the other math too. What if your employees are out for two weeks to a month due to COVID complications? Not ignoring the human impact, that would be $90,00 for those same 2,500 employees at 2 weeks each (and that’s conservative). And, further, the pandemic has already been very costly for businesses in so many ways- customers, profitability, revised practices, etc. Let’s hope these additional sick days are one of the last financial sacrifices that companies will incur as we make our way towards emerging from this pandemic.

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