- Vaccination rates were 17% higher in cities with paid sick leave than in cities without such policies, and disparities in vaccination rates in vulnerable neighborhoods were lower in cities with paid sick leave policies, according to a study published Monday by the journal Health Affairs.
- Using 2021 vaccination data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 37 large U.S. cities, the authors found that the median percentage of those vaccinated ages 18-64 was 73.2% in cities with paid sick leave policies, compared to 66.5% in cities without paid time off for illness. The same difference in vaccination rates did not occur among those ages 65 and older, who typically are exiting the workforce and are less affected by sick pay policies, the authors reported.
- “It starts to call attention to the patchwork of access. It calls attention to the differences in where paid sick leave exists and where it doesn’t,” Alina Schnake-Mahl, study author and an assistant professor in the Urban Health Collaborative and the department of health policy and management at Drexel University, told HR Dive. Schnake-Mahl said there is an opportunity for employers, cities, states and the federal government to implement sick leave policies to address the disparities in vaccination rates.
In April 2020, the Trump administration temporarily required public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to workers for COVID-19-related reasons under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Paid sick leave can improve mortality rates by more than 5% in large, central metropolitan counties, according to a study published in August in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, some cities, like San Francisco, as well as some states, enacted their own paid leave policies. But, as the pandemic showed the need for illness-related time off, more governments, like New Mexico, started adopting their own policies.
At the same time, some states, like Texas, tried to preempt municipalities from implementing paid sick leave ordinances.