How Wal-Mart Spreads Swine Flu

Wal-Mart might be encouraging its customers to "Live Better," but according to a report by the National Labor Committee, its draconian policies regarding work absences are having the opposite effect on its employees-and putting everyone else in danger as well. The report, cited by the Institute for Southern Studies' blog Facing South and The Washington Independent, claims that Wal-Mart hands out demerits and docks pay when workers stay home-even when they, or their children, are sick. One sick day causes a one-point demerit and the loss of eight hours of wages; three absences over six months results in disciplinary absence, and a sixth absence brings about "Decision Day," after which an employee is either fired or put on a one-year probationary period. Since H1N1 can cause a week or more of absence from work, staying home with swine flu could get you fired, leaving some employees with little choice but to work through the illness-and possibly create a public health risk. The NLC is urging Wal-Mart to end its policies immediately.