It's fairly intuitive that the best way to keep down the number of sick days employees take is for them to actually take sick days when they need them and keep the influenza out of the office. As businesses try to scale back health care spending, however, paid sick leave is becoming a fringe benefit rather than a guarantee. Some cities like San Francisco and Washington D.C. are passing legislation that requires employers to offer a minimum number of sick days, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

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Employers are foregoing sick days for "paid time off," lumping together vacation, sick and personal days, and allowing employees to allocate their time off as needed, the Times reports. The paper cites a 2004 National Health Interview Survey, which shows the average worker take 3.9 sick days a year for their own illnesses, and 1.3 days to care for family members.

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