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No paid sick days for 44 million workers: report

January 12, 2011

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Washington – Only 58 percent of private-sector employees in the United States were offered paid sick leave in 2010, according to research (.pdf file) released Jan. 4 from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. That figure represents 44 million workers.

"The fewer the number of workers who are able to stay home when sick, the more likely it is that diseases will spread," said Dr. Robert Drago, director of research at IWPR. "We saw this during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic."

People working in the food service and preparation industry were least likely to be offered paid sick leave, with 77 percent of workers not having access. Construction and excavation, personal care and services, and protective services also had low rates of paid sick leave.

Although these overall figures are 4 percent higher than the most recent estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Compensation Survey, the BLS figures do not account for employees who are not yet provided paid sick time due to employer tenure requirements. IWPR's research corrects for such requirements.

On average, employees must wait 78 working days (approximately 3.5 months) before paid sick leave is made available.

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