Family Values @ Work

Bureau of Labor Statistics data confirm value of paid sick days

March 24, 2010

How much does it cost to provide paid sick days? Pennies per hour, according to the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS estimates a cost of 23 cents per employee hour across all workers who receive sick leave— less than 1% of workers’ average total pay.  And the cost is even lower for the workers who are most likely to have no paid sick days now – 18 cents per hour for sales and office employees, only 8 cents per hour for service workers.

The BLS’s report also confirms that a disparity exists in which workers receive paid sick days now. Only slightly more than 4 in 10 of service workers can take sick time without losing their paycheck or jeopardizing their job, compared to 8 in 10 managers who have the protection to care for themselves or sick loved ones. We know from other studies that the proportion of people lacking paid sick days is dramatically higher in the occupations where workers need them the most – those who care for the sick and elderly, serve our food, clean our workplaces.

So much for the corporate lobbyists who claim guaranteeing paid sick days for all will bankrupt business. In fact, smart employers already offer the time with pay because of the cost savings from higher productivity, lower turnover and lower health care costs.

To read the full report, go to



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