Study: Lack of Sick Leave and Financial Worry Often Connected

By Lauren Mineau

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University and Cleveland State University recently investigated the possible correlation between paid sick leave and financial worry.

For the study, researchers used the 2015 National Health Interview Survey data release, which sampled 17,897 adults between the ages of 18 and 64 working in the United States. More than 40 percent of respondents didn’t have paid sick time.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 68 percent of Americans working full-time had access to paid sick days, while 31 percent of part-time workers have access to this benefit.

Researchers LeaAnne DeRigne (FAU) and Patricia Stoddard-Dare, Ph.D., (Cleveland State) found in their original research that workers without paid sick time reported significantly more financial distress than people with the benefit. Those without sick time were 1.45 times more likely to report that their distress symptoms interfered with their daily life.

They found that adults without this benefit were also three times more likely to have incomes below the poverty level, experience food insecurity and require welfare services.

In the latest research, DeRigne and Stoddard-Dare stress that this vulnerable part of the population should have access to paid sick time so they could ease the burden of potential lost wages when they’ve been out sick.

"The costs of providing sick leave benefits may be lower than employers think when taking into account the costs of workers coming to work when they are sick or performing sub-optimally," said Stoddard-Dare, co-author and a professor in the School of Social Work at Cleveland State University. "Both employers and policy makers should consider the potential cost savings associated with offering a few guaranteed paid sick days."