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What’s a Sick Day Worth?

More states and cities are starting to require businesses to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Just how much the days off are worth depends who you ask – an employer or a worker.

Connecticut became the first state to mandate that companies with more than 50 employees provide paid sick days, and others may soon follow suit, the Wall Street Journal reports. For the 60% of private sector workers who currently have the benefit, they take an average of three days a year, says Kevin Miller, a senior research associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research who has studied this issue. For someone making $50,000 a year who takes the typical 3 days, the benefit is worth about $577 in gross pay.

Employers suggest they cough up even more for sick days: they report their average worker takes five days a year, according to a survey conducted by Mercer, a human-resources consulting firm. For a worker making $50,000 a year, those sick days would add up to $960. But companies may recoup those lost wages by sparing the rest of their staffs from getting ill, experts say. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, the lower productivity of people who come to work when they’re sick costs employers $160 billion a year, twice as much as the cost of actual absenteeism.

Of course, there’s a lot of variation between workers: “Something like half of workers that have paid sick days say they didn’t use any in the past year. And some people use a lot more,” Miller notes. Women tend to take slightly more sick days than men, in part because “they’re more likely to be the parent who has to stay home with a sick child,” he says. In San Francisco, where businesses are required to provide paid time off, the median number of days used was three for women and two for men, according to an IWPR study.

There may be some reason for workers who already have paid sick leave to hope it becomes a universal benefit, Miller adds. “The people who are least likely to have paid sick days are people who interact with the public,” he says: Retail workers and food service workers. Even those who can comfortably stay home when they get the flu “on their lunch break may still have to go get a sandwich from someone who may be sick,” he says.


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      The Raygun » A new Road for Icon…
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      A new Road for Icon…
      Tuesday, February 16 2010
      Since its formation as a fully-fledged entity four years ago, Icon’s home entertainment arm has been promising to deliver a consistent slate of strong, commercial fare. And while it has often given the trade big hits, its not always had consistently strong fare. It’s not even as if Icon itself could be blamed – years have come and gone and titles, particularly Icon’s own productions, have been delayed through no fault of its own.
      Now, in 2010, and with new management and owners at the helm, Icon Home Entertainment is at last coming good on its promise.
      This year – and beyond – see a typically diverse selection on offer from Icon, but its always eclectic slate is tempered not just with direct to DVD gems, independent fare fro the US and beyond, but it also has a selection of consistently good mainstream fare.
      Consistency is the key word – while in previous years Icon has conjured up the odd major release, now it is offering hit after hit.
      And while the diversity is there, alongside an award-friendly roster, it’s the inherent commerciality that is most appealing.
      This strength and breadth of titles tempted Icon Home Entertainment to make its first ever trade-wide presentation to retailers.
      As well as unveiling its package for the coming months, Icon could also outline a slate of titles that are currently nearing completion and due later in 2010 and well into next year that see it maintaining a constant flow of strong titles. Throw in its unerring sense of what works in the foreign language and DTV sectors, and you’re looking at a company that can grow its market share even further.
      And this confidence enabled the company to make a groundbreaking pricing announcement of its own, bringing its Blu-ray pricing into line with DVD, a move aimed at growing the former’s slice of the cake further, and the kind of strategy that shows Icon becoming a driving force in the market, leading the way.
      Its status as a major player has been enhanced by its new ownership and newly-installed supremo Stewart Till. The industry veteran gave his first major presentation and reminded retailers of his video industry grounding as a way of showing that he understands how important the home entertainment side of the business is.
      “One of the things that amazes me is the industry doesn’t acknowledge that DVD gives at least 50 per cent of revenue,” he said.
      Further outlining his vision, Till added: “Part of the strategy is to recreate PolyGram, not for bizarre nostalgia reasons, but to create a company to fill the gap between the studios, who have an awful lot of strengths and single territory independent distributors.”
      He played up Icon’s strengths – the fact that it could make decisions itself without having to refer them to a head office in Los Angeles. He also praised the company’s marketing skills – saying they were as good as those at any film company in the world.
      Till’s strong links to Hollywood producers allied to Icon’s prowess will, as Till said, “enable us to acquire bigger and better films”. In the meantime, and for 2010, the product was, Till said, a “great launchpad” for the “new” Icon.
      Before running through the product slate, Icon’s head of marketing Chris Warrington ran through some of the company’s marketing beliefs.
      It as, he said, driven by the three Ps – people (knowing the company’s audience), product (acquiring at a local level and, crucially, working on additional materials in the UK and packaging it in the best way possible and promotion (“Our guarantee with every film we release is that there will be significant campaign behind it,” he said). And while TV was still the best way of getting into people’s homes, Icon was always looking at ways of reaching people’s homes and engaging consumers.
      Its line-up for the first half of the year includes Paranormal Activity (see elsewhere on The Raygun for more), but, as Warrington noted, it is key to get sustain the theatrical marketing campaign and replicate the collective audience experience so crucial for its success in cinemas among viewers at home. If the message at theatrical was “don’t go alone”, then for the March release it is “don’t watch it alone on DVD and Blu-ray”.
      Next up is The Box, the Cameron Diaz starrer directed by Richard (Donnie Darko) Kelly. While admitting it is a Marmite movie (loved by some, hated by others), Warrington said there was a real opportunity with this one. “We want to create a momentum behind it,” he said.
      The next quartet of titles have been dubbed Icon’s prestige pictures, all drawing “enormous critical acclaim” and BAFTA and Oscar nods.
      Nowhere Boy is, Warrington said, “a real crowd pleaser.
      “It’s got great word of mouth, great artwork, [plays] really broad and we’re really sensing a great opportunity with this film.”
      The Road should be hugely familiar to most thanks in no small part to a major campaign for its impressive theatrical release. “It needs to be handled delicately and it needs to be nurtured, but its pedigree is immaculate.
      Precious has drawn unanimous acclaim and is, as Warrington noted, “a truly unique film”.
      The last of the quartet is A Single Man, a sumptuous looking outing helmed by fashion designer Tom Ford. “It’s like Mad Men, but prettier and with a smarter dress code.”
      Then Icon’s head of home entertainment Ian Dawson ran through titles beyond the first part of the year, taking in Mel Gibson starrer Edge Of Darkness, his first appearance in front of the camera since Signs. Close collaboration with the theatrical team means the DVD should see the light of day before Father’s Day. Beyond that there’s Shelter, a psychological, spooky thriller starring Julianne Moore, who plays a psychiatrist with a schizophrenic patient whose personalities all appear to be murder victims.
      It’s A Wonderful Afterlife is the latest from Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha. She took to the stage in front of assembled retailers to tell them about the film, a zombiefied romantic comedy. “It’s a film in the world of Bend It Like Beckham,” she said, “but a completely different genre.”
      Ryan Reynolds stars in the much-talked about Iraq-based thriller Buried, where he stars as a contractor in the war-torn country who is kidnapped and buried alive with only a dying mobile phone for company.
      The Killer Inside Me is a noir thriller based on a book by Jim Thompson, the pulp author whose books provided the source material for the likes of The Grifters and The Getaway. This outing stars Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba and, in keeping with Thompson’s oeuvre, oozes sex and violence. It has already caused controversy at the Sundance Film Festival, with Brit director Michael Winterbottom, who boasts a hugely varied CV taking in Genova. The Road To Guantanamo and 24 Hour Party People, defending its content to shocked audiences.
      Further down the line, there are a brace of remakes, in the form of 13, boasting a cast that ranges from Emmanuelle Chriqui, Sam Riley and 50 Cent to Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone and Jason Statham and Let Me In, a US take on Scandinavian vampire film Let The Right One In. The latter comes from a revitalised Hammer studio, which is also producing The Resident, a thriller with Hilary Swank and Christophe Lee.
      The wonderfully titled Gladiators Vs Werewolves, first in a planned trilogy, is a British based swords and monsters film, while also British-based, but somewhat more grounded in the real world, is West Is West, the long-awaited sequel to East Is East.
      Similarly eagerly awaited is the new film from legendary if somewhat infrequent director Terrence Malick. The Tree Of Life stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.
      As well as Edge Of Darkness there is another Mel Gibson, Icon production (the now separate Icon UK theatrical and home entertainment arms have a first look deal with Gibson’s production arm), The Beaver, a comedy starring Mel Gibson as a man who has to walk around with a, er beaver on his hand.
      Commenting on the line-up, Icon’s Dawson said: “We are delighted with the line-up. Having shown that we can deliver on quality films both big and small on DVD in recent years, it is obviously great to look at 2010 and to be confident of having at least one major title every month around which to build our plans.”
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    • i despise it when coworkers show up sick. i always stay home. im a team player.

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