National Partnership for Women & Families

Dramatic Rise in Private Sector Access to Paid Sick Time Marks ‘Historic Progress’ for Workers, Businesses and the Economy, But Tens of Millions Still Left Behind

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — July 21, 2017 —

“According to new data released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in just two years, the share of people working for private sector businesses in the United States who can earn paid sick time has increased dramatically. Sixty-eight percent of the private sector workforce – nearly 79 million private sector workers in the country – now have access to paid sick days. That’s up from 64 percent of the private sector workforce in 2016 and 61 percent in 2015. This historic progress in such a short amount of time is great news for workers and their families and communities, and a powerful testament to the tireless efforts of workers, advocates, business leaders and lawmakers across the country who have helped win workable paid sick days laws. This is an encouraging moment.

The new data reflect a rapid rise in legislative victories and public demand that has inspired employers and lawmakers to better understand and adopt paid sick days policies. Nearly 40 jurisdictions nationwide now have, or will soon have, paid sick days laws in place. And the biggest gains in access since the data were released one year ago were in the Northeast and West – two regions that have enacted several paid sick days laws. Research on existing laws shows the widespread benefits that paid sick days have on the overall well-being of working people and families, the health of communities and workplaces, businesses’ bottom lines and the strength of local and state economies. The findings have dispelled oft-touted myths about negative effects, and more employers and lawmakers are prioritizing the policy as a result.

But the new data also indicate that progress must continue and hard-fought gains must be protected. When more than 37 million people with paying jobs still cannot earn a single paid sick day to recover from the flu or go to the doctor, it is clear that there is much more work to do to ensure all working people have access to this protection. The new data do show improved access across geography, industry and income level, but disparities in access are still astonishing. Just 46 percent of service sector workers have access to paid sick days, compared to 88 percent of those working in management or professional positions. And only 43 percent of workers in the lowest-paid quartile of the workforce have access to paid sick days, compared to 89 percent of those in the highest-paid quartile.

If, as a nation, we are ever going to reach the day when no working person has to choose between a job and their health or the health of a child because they cannot earn paid sick time, we need a strong federal paid sick days standard that builds on the strength of existing laws. That means members of Congress must acknowledge the growing need and demand for paid sick days and prioritize a strong, tested proposal like the Healthy Families Act. The Healthy Families Act would guarantee that an estimated 90 percent of private sector workers in the country could earn up to seven days of paid sick time each year – without undermining important advances at the state and local levels. The bill is the natural, common sense next step at a critical time for working families.”

The National Partnership convenes a broad and diverse coalition that supports the Healthy Families Act. More information can be found at PaidSickDays.org.

Contact

Sadie Kliner (202) 986-2600 skliner@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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