Some US Companies Begin to Offer “Unsick” Days

December 10, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. incur / ɪnˈkɜr / (v.) – to acquire something unpleasant
Example: They sold the company after incurring a huge debt.

2. put off / pʊt ɔf / (v.) – to delay something
Example: Don’t put off doing your homework.

3. preventive / prɪˈvɛn tɪv / (adj.) – describing something related to preventing something from happening
Example: Effective preventive care will reduce the number of people who get sick yearly.

4. risk factor / rɪsk ˈfæk tər / (n.) – a condition that increases the chances of a hazard or disease
ExampleRisk factors for lung cancer include smoking.

5. spare / spɛər / (v.) – to be saved from experiencing something bad
Example: The dog was spared from death by timely medical attention.


Read the text below.
A study has shown that employers incur huge losses every year due to their employees’ poor healthcare practices.

According to a 2014 study, companies lose $160 billion annually because of employees who choose to work even if they are ill. This loss is due to the decreased productivity of employees when they are ill. 

In line with these findings, another survey conducted among 2,000 respondents found that 60% of American employees put off a visit to the doctor because of work responsibilities. The survey was conducted by Zocdoc, a company that offers online medical care scheduling services. 

In response to the alarming figures, Zocdoc launched an initiative that aims to keep employees from getting sick. The company partnered with a number of US employers to encourage them to offer “unsick days.”

An unsick day is a privilege given by the company that allows employees to take paid time off from work to attend preventive care appointments, such as checkups. The new program aims to make employees more comfortable with the idea of taking time off to take care of their health.

Regular check-ups allow people to identify risk factors for a disease or help them detect major health issues early. 

Since preventive healthcare lessens the possibility of acquiring illnesses, employees are also spared from the huge expenses of getting treatment. Preventive care also saves employees from major consequences of poor healthcare practices. According to Dr. Georges Benjamin of the American Public Healthcare Association, 70% of deaths in the United States are due to preventable diseases.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that offering “unsick days” helps employees become more productive? Why or why not?
·         Should preventive healthcare for employees be a requirement for companies? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How would coming to work sick affect a person’s performance?
·         What do you think are the reasons why employees still come to work even when they are ill?

December 10, 2016