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Issue Brief

Estimating Usage and Costs of Alternative Policies to Provide Paid Sick Days in the United States

Title
Estimating Usage and Costs of Alternative Policies to Provide Paid Sick Days in the United States
Date
January 2017
Author(s)
Jeff Hayes, Ph.D., Dallas Elgin, Ph.D., Ye Zhang, Ph.D., Sandeep Shetty, Ph.D., Jessica Smith, MPP
Market
Workforce Development
Education
Services
Policy/Program Analysis
Applied Research Studies
Methodologies
Cost-benefit Analysis
Simulation
Survey Analysis

According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, more than fifty million workers in the U.S. lack access to paid sick days in their current jobs. Currently, seven states and 32 other jurisdictions have passed laws that require employers to provide workers paid sick days.

However, no national policy exists and the various states and localities provide for different coverage, eligibility, and benefits. Paid sick day policies are generally designed to address short-term illness of the worker or the worker’s immediate family care needs.

Under the influence of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, many mandatory and voluntary paid sick days’ policies now cover absences for family care, as well as workers’ own illness and medical needs.

In this issue brief, IMPAQ International collaborated with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research to explore the costs and benefits of alternative sick leave policies applied at the national level. The brief analyzes two models taken from actual policies in the states and a federal proposal selected to provide variations in generosity. These models are applied to national workforce data to simulate national costs and benefits and represent a range of policy designs and benefit provisions.

All three models include all government workers and require that the employer pay eligible employees for time taken off for covered reasons.