Less than two weeks into this year, we have already celebrated a new paid sick days law in Portland, Ore., and a major victory in the effort to expand D.C.’s existing paid sick days law to cover tipped workers. Even more progress is on the horizon as new laws are implemented and new campaigns kick off. And it is exciting that, as of this week, we also have new evidence of the success of the nation’s first and only statewide paid sick days law in Connecticut.
On Monday, Eileen Appelbaum, senior economist at the Center for Economic Policy Research, and Ruth Milkman, professor at the City University of New York, released preliminary findings from their survey of 251 Connecticut employers that included 15 on-site interviews. The findings should put to rest opponents’ tired arguments that paid sick days harm businesses.
The key takeaway from these preliminary results is that Connecticut’s paid sick days law, which took effect in January 2012 and covers about 400,000 workers in the state, has resulted in numerous benefits for Connecticut’s businesses with minimal or no noticeable effect on their operations or costs. In fact, more than three in four Connecticut employers now say they support the law. And the specific findings clearly demonstrate why.
Nearly 30 percent of the employers surveyed say that providing paid sick days has increased employee morale, and nearly 19 percent say it reduced the number of employees who come to work sick. Other benefits include increasing productivity and motivation and reducing the spread of illness and turnover. Few employers report reducing employee wages or increasing prices as a result of the law, and half report that employees use three or fewer paid sick days annually — despite earning closer to eight, on average.
Appelbaum and Milkman also found that Connecticut’s law has successfully increased the number of employers that provide paid sick days, particularly in the hospitality, retail, health, education and social service sectors. This is especially important for public health given that those who work in these industries interact with the public frequently. (Note: Connecticut’s law does not cover businesses with fewer than 50 employees, excluding many service sector establishments.)
The full report and further details will be available next month. In the meantime, these new findings offer powerful evidence of the benefits to establishing paid sick days standards at the local, state and federal levels. We look forward to the report’s contribution to the substantial and growing body of evidence that shows that paid sick days are good for workers, their families, public health, businesses and the economy.