|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2016
Contact: Jennifer Clark, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.785.5100
Four in 10 American Workers Lack Paid Sick Days
New research shows inequality in access by race/ethnicity, supervisor status, occupation, and earnings level
Only half of workers with paid sick days took any last year
Washington, DC—New analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that four in ten workers in the United States lack access to paid sick days, and among those who do have access, only 55 percent of workers actually used any sick days in the previous year. Inequality in access to paid sick days exists within and across occupations, with supervisors more likely to have paid sick days than non-supervisors. Hispanic, low-wage, and food service and personal care workers are least likely to have access to this important benefit.
On average, workers with access to paid sick days take 2.1 sick days per year, compared with 1.6 days for workers without the benefit. This suggests that many people who do not have paid sick days are going to work sick.
“This new research shows how the lack of paid sick days contributes to inequality in our nation. At the same time, workers’ use of paid sick days, when they have them, is incredibly modest overall. Generous paid sick days policies can promote good health and cover workers in the rare instances when they need more than a few days off,” said IWPR Vice President and Executive Director Barbara Gault, Ph.D.
The briefing paper also finds inequality in access to paid sick days:
“These data indicate that workers least able to lose pay when they are sick are also the least likely to have employer-provided paid sick days,” said Jeff Hayes, Ph.D., IWPR Program Director for Job Quality & Income Security. “And in the case of restaurant and personal care workers, this lack of access can have serious public health ramifications, including increased spread of contagion.”
The briefing paper uses new data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and is the first to provide estimates on the number of work days that employees missed in the past year due to illness or injury, and analyzes usage rates by sex, race and ethnicity, geography, occupation, and other demographic characteristics.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.
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