Study: To see paid sick leave ROI, plans need to offer 10 days or more
- Workers need 10 or more paid sick leave days to raise the odds significantly that they'll take time out for preventive healthcare, according to researchers in a joint study by Florida Atlantic University and Cleveland State University. The study reportedly is the first to link the number of paid sick leave days with employees' use of preventive services, such as getting a flu shot or having a mammogram. Researchers studied 3,235 working adults between ages 49 and 57.
- The study, "How Many Sick Days Are Enough?," found that American workers increase their use of preventive care by 26% to 85% with 10 or more paid sick leave days, compared to those with zero to two days leave. In the U.S., paid sick leave is "inconsistently included" in workplace benefits packages, and only 72% of American workers have access to the benefit, the study notes. The science news source also noted that states and municipalities have mandated different paid sick leave packages based on employers' size.
- Researchers found that employers offered a median number of seven paid sick leave days, with almost 27% in the study reported having no paid sick leave days. Nearly 26% of employers offered zero or a low number of days, while 43% offered 10 or more days. Only 10% offered 20 or more paid sick leave days. LeaAnne DeRigne, Ph.D., lead author of the study said that if policymakers want to expand the use of preventive care services, workers must have no less than 10 paid sick leave days.
If paid sick leave policies increase the probability of workers using preventive health services, can employers save on healthcare costs by offering generous policies? Regular health checkups and screenings can spot medical problems early before more extensive and costly treatments become necessary, and preventive care is a key part of any good wellness initiative.
More employers are taking a second look at offering more extensive paid leave policies, including sick leave, especially as more states and cities pass paid sick leave ordinances. This patchwork of laws as well as a tough talent market has prompted even employers not usually associated with paid leave, such as a few big box retailers, to add or improve upon their plans.
This study calls out 10 days as the golden number employers should aim for to see strong ROI. Currently, most laws mandate that employees should accrue a set amount of time through hours worked, and few caps are near the 10 day mark. Austin, Texas, recently passed a law that capped at 64 hours of paid sick leave, for example. But innovative employers could consider a flat amount of paid sick time for their future plans, especially as more turn toward wellness initiatives to bring down healthcare costs.