- The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released some welcome news about paid sick leave for U.S. employees working in the private sector. In the past 12 months, the share of private industry workers with access to at least one day of paid sick leave increased from 61% to 64%, the highest on record. To put it in perspective, there has been a total increase of just 7 percentage points over the last decade.
- In addition, the uptick between 2015 and 2016 was almost entirely due to an increase in access (from 31% to 39%) among workers in low-wage occupations with average wages in the bottom 25%.
- Paid sick days mean workers can manage health needs without putting their financial security at risk. But employers benefit as well because offering paid sick days can mean a reduction in the spread of illnesses to other workers and customers, increased worker morale, an easier time attracting talented employees, and a reduction in costly turnover.
Paid sick leave laws on the state level also had an impact on this rising trend. The biggest increase in access to paid sick days over the last year was in the BLS' Pacific Census Division, which includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington state. In that group, the share of private industry workers with access to paid sick leave jumped up 12 percentage points (61% to 73%) between March 2015 and March 2016, the same period in which both California and Oregon implemented new statewide paid sick time laws.
Employers still have a long way to go – more than one-third of private industry workers still do not have access to a single day of paid sick leave – but with the positive benefits of the trend, that momentum will likely continue.