Paid Sick Days Access in the United States: Differences by Race/Ethnicity, Occupation, Earnings, and Work Schedule

Claudia Williams, Barbara Gault, Ph.D.

March 4, 2014
  • ID: #B328

Paid sick days bring substantial benefits to employers, workers, families, and communities. The economic and public health benefits of paid sick leave coverage include safer work environments; improved work life balance, reduced spread of contagion; and reduced health care costs. Access to this important benefit, however, is still too rare, and is unequally distributed across the U.S. population, with differences by race and ethnicity, occupation, earnings levels, and work schedules.

Utilizing data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), IWPR finds that in 2012, approximately 61 percent of private-sector workers age 18 and older in the U.S. had access to paid sick days (Figure 1); up from 57 percent in 2009. More than 41 million workers lack access.