Workers without paid sick leave benefits have greater financial worries
- Researchers reportedly found a correlation between the lack of paid sick leave and financial worries. In a study published in the Journal of Social Service Research, investigators at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Cleveland State University (CSU) discovered that the lives of U.S. workers without a paid family leave benefit are often tied to poverty and that these workers were more likely to have short- term money concerns, such as rent, and long-term financial problems, like retirement. Respondents without paid sick leave were 1.6 times more likely to say they were "very worried" about short-term expenses such as paying a mortgage, rent or other household expenses compared to those with paid sick leave.
- In prior studies, researchers found that when compared to employees with paid sick leave, workers without the benefit reported having significantly higher levels of psychological distress and were 1.5 times more likely to say that their distress symptoms interfered "a lot" with their day-to-day lives and activities. The most vulnerable people were the young, Hispanics, low-income and poorly educated workers. In other research findings, workers without paid sick leave were three times more likely to have earnings below the poverty line and were more apt to face food insecurity and need welfare services.
- Citing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the researchers reported that 68% of Americans and only 31% of part-time workers can access paid sick days. Hispanic workers have the lowest rates of access, at just 45%. The U.S. and Japan remain the only industrialized nations without a national sick leave mandate, the study noted.
Many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and those without paid sick leave could be financially wiped out because of a catastrophic illness or financial emergency. Their employment also could be in jeopardy if they must take time out for an illness without pay. Money shortages often instigate stress and chronic health disorders, resulting in high productivity losses worth some $450 to $550 billion annually partly thanks to high absenteeism. In a time of labor shortages, paid sick time may be a strong business investment for attracting and retaining workers.
The current administration recently announced a tax credit for employers that offer paid family and medical leave. Only paid family and medical leave provided for employees who earned $72,000 or less in the previous year qualify for the credit, further encouraging protections for lesser paid employees. Paid leave is a consistently popular benefit among employees; in a particularly tight talent field (during a high seasonal hiring period, no less), employers that offer paid sick leave could set themselves above the competition — and save money in the long run.