Nearly 7 Million Workers in California Lack Paid Sick Days

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A new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that 44 percent of California’s workers lack access to a single paid sick day. The report also finds that access to paid sick days in the state varies widely by race and ethnicity, occupation, work schedule, earnings level, and where workers live.

Nearly 7 Million Workers in California Lack Paid Sick Days

Access to paid sick days in CA by race/ethnicity

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Washington, DC—A new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that 44 percent of California’s workers lack access to a single paid sick day. The report also finds that access to paid sick days in the state varies widely by race and ethnicity, occupation, work schedule, earnings level, and where workers live.

Hispanic workers living in California are among the least likely to have access, with only 43 percent of the state’s Hispanic workers, compared with 64 percent of white workers, having access. In addition, nearly three in four low-wage workers do not have paid sick days. Access is especially uncommon in jobs that require frequent contact with the public, such as in food service, where 81 percent of workers do not have paid sick days.

“These data indicate that California’s workers who are least able to lose pay when they are sick are also the least likely to have employer-provided paid sick days,” said IWPR Study Director Jeff Hayes, Ph.D. “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 in schools and workplaces.”

Paid sick leave policies help parents fulfill their caregiving responsibilities. Research shows that having paid sick leave is the primary factor in a parent’s decision to stay home when their children are sick. In fact, parents without access to paid sick days are nearly twice as likely to send their children to school or day care sick.

San Francisco passed the country’s first paid sick days ordinance in 2007. Following implementation of the ordinance, IWPR analyses found that two-thirds of employers surveyed after the law’s implementation were supportive of the measure and that job growth in San Francisco exceeded that of its surrounding counties. Available research on other cities and the state of Connecticut, which have passed similar laws, 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.

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