Paid Sick Days Improves Public Health, Benefits Employers and the Economy

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New IWPR report brings together rich body of evidence on the economic, health, and social benefits of paid sick leave

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Seeing the research brought together, from a range of disciplines, makes a striking case for universal access to paid sick days as a low-cost strategy for improving health and economic well-being

A new briefing paper by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) compiles more than a dozen scholarly and policy research articles that demonstrate a compelling case for the health, economic, and social benefits of paid sick leave. The report cites studies showing that paid sick days are associated with benefits to employers, including reduced contagion in the workplace, improved productivity, decreased workplace injuries, and lower employee turnover. Studies also show employment benefits to workers, including greater job stability and labor force attachment.

The report also summarizes studies on public health benefits, showing that paid sick days are associated with greater use of preventive health care, such as mammograms and pap smears; faster treatment for illness; and reduced use of emergency rooms. Paid sick days are a primary factor affecting whether a working parent will stay at home with a sick child rather than sending them to school or child care sick.

“Seeing the research brought together, from a range of disciplines, makes a striking case for universal access to paid sick days as a low-cost strategy for improving health and economic well-being,” said IWPR Vice President and Executive Director Barbara Gault, Ph.D.

The briefing paper concludes with an overview of research evaluating existing paid sick days laws, including those in Connecticut, Seattle, and San Francisco, which find that costs to employers have been minimal, policy implementation is easy, and employees use paid sick days judiciously.

Regions that have implemented paid sick days have seen no negative employment or job growth effects and surveys find that paid sick days policies have been associated with improved employee morale and better work-life balance. One study using Google Flu data found decreased contagion in areas that have implemented paid sick days laws.

Read the briefing paper, “Paid Sick Days Benefit Employers, Workers, and the Economy,” on IWPR.org.

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Jennifer Clark
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