Paid sick leave movement is alive and kicking

Did you work the last time you were sick? You wouldn't be alone if you did. A report published earlier this year noted that "Millions of workers in the United States cannot take paid time away from work to recover or seek preventive care when they are sick."

But that's starting to change. President Obama marked Labor Day by signing an executive order that requires paid sick leave for employees of federal contractors.

Indeed, American companies can be pretty Dickensian when it comes to the issue of paid sick days. No federal laws require private sector employers to provide paid or unpaid sick leave. And about 39 percent of U.S. private sector workers lack access to any sick paid leave, according to a joint study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research and the National Partnership for Women & Families.

That has led several local municipalities and at least four states -- California, Connecticut, Oregon and Massachusetts -- to establish their own paid sick leave laws to ensure that workers don't have to chose between working sick, losing part of their pay or, in some cases, losing their jobs altogether.

However, some states are going in the opposite direction. A new report from XpertHR, an online service that assists in compliance with state, federal and municipal law, shows that least 11 other states have instituted bans on municipalities from passing their own paid sick leave laws.

XpertHR noted that this has created a "jumble of sick leave laws popping up across the country." That's making it problematic for employers, especially those that operate in more than one jurisdiction, to ensure they're in compliance.

Still, many U.S. companies go beyond legal requirements by voluntarily providing leave benefits, a practice that said gives the employer more flexibility in the workplace while reducing employee turnover.

The XpertHR report concluded that the number of American towns, municipalities and other jurisdictions requiring paid sick leave is likely to grow. It also recommended that employers acquaint themselves with "all the nuances" of those laws before implementing such policies and practices.