Paid Sick Days and Paid Family and Medical Leave Are Not Job Killers

By Danielle Corley, Sunny Frothingham, and Kate Bahn

Introduction and summary

Paid sick days and paid family and medical leave have gained new momentum in the past several years as policymakers, businesses, and the public increasingly recognize the necessity of these policies for working families. In 2002, California became the first jurisdiction in the United States to pass paid family and medical leave. In 2007, San Francisco became the first jurisdiction to pass paid sick days.1 Today, five states and the District of Columbia have passed paid family and medical leave laws and seven states, 30 cities, and two counties have passed paid sick days laws—including Washington state and Arizona, which passed ballot measures in November 2016.2 Access to paid sick days was further extended across the country in 2015 when President Barack Obama signed an executive order to provide an estimated 1.15 million federal contract workers with paid sick days.3 Additionally, businesses continue to make headlines as they adopt these policies on their own, citing their positive workplace effects.4 And American voters—across the political spectrum—have repeatedly shown strong support for these policies in public polling.5 Almost 70 percent of those who voted for President-elect Donald Trump support a national social insurance program for paid family and medical leave, alongside 89 percent of those who voted for Hillary Clinton.6

Yet even as states and cities across the country pass laws guaranteeing paid sick days and paid family and medical leave, too many families still do not have access to these critical workplace standards. More than one-third of private-sector workers do not have a single paid sick day, and only 13 percent of private-sector workers have paid family and medical leave.7 Furthermore, it is often the workers who can least afford unpaid time off from work who do not have access to these policies. Workers in the highest earnings quartile are more than two times as likely to have paid sick days and more than four times as likely to have paid family leave as those in the lowest earnings quartile.8

Read More>>