Two just released, peer-reviewed studies from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide new, quantitative evidence of the relationship between workers’ access to paid sick days and their health and well-being. The enlightening studies are based on data from the 2008 National Health Interview Survey and look specifically at the relationship between paid sick days and occupational injury and cancer prevention.
The first study, “Paid Sick Leave and Nonfatal Occupational Injuries,” was published online in the American Journal of Public Health this month. It finds that workers with paid sick days are 28 percent less likely to be injured at work, suggesting that adopting paid sick days policies could have significant advantages for employers in addition to the obvious benefits for workers. Researchers surveyed a range of industries and occupations and found the strongest connection between lack of access to paid sick days and occupational injuries in high-risk sectors and occupations.
The second study, “The Lack of Paid Sick Leave as a Barrier to Cancer Screening and Medical Care-Seeking: Results from the National Health Interview Survey,” published in BMC Public Health, looks at the connection between access to paid sick days and preventive health care, particularly cancer screenings. The study’s researchers find that workers with paid sick days are more likely to have had mammograms, Pap tests and endoscopies (such as colonoscopies), and to have seen a doctor or health care provider at least once in the past year. The study controlled for factors like health insurance coverage, having a regular health care provider, education, poverty ratio and race or ethnicity.
Both studies clearly show what paid sick days supporters and workers across the country have known for years: Paid sick days are essential to the health of the nation’s workforce, our businesses and our communities. The studies also bolster arguments about the role paid sick days can play in reducing health care costs for working families and taxpayers.
By strengthening the case for allowing workers to earn paid sick days, we hope these new findings will give lawmakers and employers the evidence they need to prioritize this common sense measure.