Given the article we published this week documenting the millions of Americans who work without paid sick days, we could not help but reflect on our situation at TNS. One of the many advantages of being a collectively-run organization is that we at TNS can craft policies that are as worker-friendly as possible. When it came to devising our sick policy, rather than turning to a boss to set the rules, we were able to ask ourselves what we needed and then figure out a way to make that work within the constraints of our organization.
In discussing our paid sick day policy, we found that some advocacy groups were calling for seven sick days per year. We decided to follow suit, but added a twist of our own.
We wanted our policy to recognize that people generally have no control over when they get sick or for how long and that not everyone ends up needing the same number of sick days each year. And we wanted to create a system that would balance each worker's needs with our collective ability to publish daily -- and encourage solidarity among staff.
Each TNS collective member gets three individual paid sick days per year, which can be used for illnesses, family emergencies, etc. We then have what we call our "communal sick day pot." The pot contains four sick days per year times the number of members in the collective. Because there are currently five collective members, we have 20 sick days in our pot.
Once a collective member uses all of their individual sick days, they may take as many sick days as they need from the pot. This method allows for flexibility, sharing and increased protection. If a collective member gets really sick, they have a cushion to fall back on. Theoretically, one could claim 23 paid sick days if needed, but once other collective members started needing days from the pot, someone who used more than their even share might have to start paying some back. So far, this has never happened.
Though of course most of us at TNS are too stubborn to take a sick day â€“ not much can keep us from our laptops â€“ itâ€™s comforting to know that we are well taken care of should we need it. And of course, itâ€™s incredibly empowering to have had a hand in drafting that safety net.