No Time to Be Sick:Why Everyone Suffers When Workers Don’t have Paid Sick Leave

Vicky Lovell

December 31, 2003
  • ID: #B242

Paid sick leave gives workers an opportunity to
regain their health, return to full productivity at
work, and avoid spreading disease to their co-workers,
all of which reduces employers’ overall
absence expense. When used to care for sick children,
it helps them get well faster and reduces job
turnover of working parents. Workers who care for
adult relatives, including the elderly, need paid sick
leave to take care of their loved ones’ chronic and
acute medical problems. However, new analysis of
data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reveals the inadequacy of paid sick leave coverage:
more than 59 million workers have no such leave.
Even more—nearly 86 million—do not have paid
sick leave to care for sick children. Full-time workers,
those in the public sector, and union members
have the best sick leave coverage, while part-timers
and low-wage workers have very low coverage
rates. Expansion of paid sick leave and integration
of family caregiving activities into authorized uses
of paid sick leave are crucial work and health supports
for workers, their families, employers, and
our communities at large.