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BLS: One-fifth of all leave time is taken for illness

August 22, 2012

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Washington – The vast majority of U.S. wage and salary workers have access to paid or unpaid leave at their primary job, and about one-fifth of time taken off is due to illness, according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Issued Aug. 16, the report is based on a survey of workers taken as part of the 2011 American Time Use Survey, and marks the first time BLS has released data on employee use of leave policies.

The No. 1 reason for taking leave was vacation, accounting for 29.5 percent of time taken off in an average week. A person’s own illness or medical care was second at 21.9 percent.

Some worker advocates have been pushing for mandatory paid leave, which they claim would allow employees to take time off when ill without sacrificing pay and would help prevent employees from going to work when sick.

Congress has convened hearings on the matter, but legislation proposed in recent years to guarantee leave time has not gained much traction.

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