Washington, DC—A new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that 45 percent of workers living in Orange County, Florida, lack even a single paid sick day. This lack of access is especially pronounced among Hispanic workers, with 56 percent lacking access to paid sick days.
Paid sick days access in Orange County varies widely by occupation, and is especially uncommon in jobs that require frequent contact with the public, including those in the travel and tourism sector, which represents one out of every three jobs in Orange County. In Orange County, 73 percent of workers in the Accommodation and Food Services industry—who have frequent contact with Orlando’s tourists—lack access to paid sick days, compared with just nine percent of Public Administration workers.
“Paid sick days are an inexpensive, effective tool for promoting public health,” said Barbara Gault, IWPR Vice President and Executive Director. “Paid sick days give workers the ability to seek health services or stay home with sick children or other family members, helping reduce the spread of illness among customers. This basic benefit is especially important in the tourism industry, where sick workers could infect individuals who then board ships and planes, unnecessarily spreading illness around the country, not to mention ruining vacations.”
Previous research shows that about half of all workers who are covered by paid sick days do not take any days off for illness or injury in a given year. When used, however, this earned time allows workers to obtain health care for themselves or their families more promptly, leading to improved health outcomes, speedier recoveries, and a more productive workforce.
Several U.S. communities have passed paid sick days laws, including New York City; Washington, DC; Portland, OR; Newark and Jersey City, NJ; Seattle, WA; and most recently, San Diego, CA, and Eugene, OR. Available research shows little evidence of negative impacts on employment or local businesses.
The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.