COVID-19 Emergency Sick Leave Has Helped Flatten The Curve In The United States

Health Aff (Millwood). 2020 Dec;39(12):2197-2204. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00863. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


This analysis examines whether the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency sick leave provision of the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) reduced the spread of the virus. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we compared changes in newly reported COVID-19 cases in states where workers gained the right to take paid sick leave (treatment group) versus in states where workers already had access to paid sick leave (control group) before the FFCRA. We adjusted for differences in testing, day-of-the-week reporting, structural state differences, general virus dynamics, and policies such as stay-at-home orders. Compared with the control group and relative to the pre-FFCRA period, states that gained access to paid sick leave through the FFCRA saw around 400 fewer confirmed cases per state per day. This estimate translates into roughly one prevented case per day per 1,300 workers who had newly gained the option to take up to two weeks of paid sick leave.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / diagnosis
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Testing / methods
  • COVID-19 Testing / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergencies* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Propensity Score
  • Sick Leave / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • State Government
  • United States / epidemiology