Workers Without Paid Sick Leave Less Likely To Take Time Off For Illness Or Injury Compared To Those With Paid Sick Leave

Health Aff (Millwood). 2016 Mar;35(3):520-7. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0965.


Paid sick leave is an important employer-provided benefit that helps people obtain health care for themselves and their dependents. But paid sick leave is not universally available to US workers. Little is known about paid sick leave and its relationship to health behaviors. Contrary to public health goals to reduce the spread of illness, our findings indicate that in 2013 both full- and part-time working adults without paid sick leave were more likely than workers with that benefit to attend work when ill. Those without paid sick leave were 3.0 times more likely to forgo medical care for themselves and 1.6 times more likely to forgo medical care for their family compared to working adults with paid sick leave benefits. Moreover, the lowest-income group of workers without paid sick leave were at the highest risk of delaying and forgoing medical care for themselves and their family members. Policy makers should consider the potential public health implications of their decisions when contemplating guaranteed sick leave benefits.

Keywords: Disparities; Workforce Issues; delayed care; forgone care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Employer Health Costs
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Insurance Benefits / economics*
  • Insurance Benefits / statistics & numerical data
  • Insurance Coverage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Sick Leave / economics*
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Workers' Compensation / economics*
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data