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Health & Safety

Health and Safety

Women have a set of specific concerns when it comes to health. More often than not, women make the majority of health care-related decisions regarding health issues for their families, are the primary caregivers, and spend more than their male counterparts on health (KFF 2009; Agency for 2004). While women, on average, are more likely than men to have health insurance, they are at special risk of a number of specific health conditions, such as depression and exposure to intimate partner violence. Low-income women and women of color are especially likely to experience poor health outcomes, with African American women, in particular, showing much higher rates of HIV/AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, and infants with low birth weight. These realities make consideration of woman-specific issues vitally important to policy decisions in the area of health.

IWPR’s research on women’s health and safety informs policy decisions by identifying gender and racial/ethnic disparities in health outcomes and access to health care services in addition to highlighting opportunities for improvement. IWPR’s reports and resources discuss a range of policy issues including access to paid sick days, the relationship between women’s health and socio-economic status, cost-benefit analyses of paid sick days provision, and rates of breastfeeding.

An IWPR fact sheet reported that 44 million workers in the United States lacked paid sick days in 2010, with 77 percent of food service workers lacking access. Preceding the passage of the first state-wide paid sick days legislation in the United States in Connecticut, IWPR estimated that Connecticut taxpayers would save $4.7 million annually in a cost-benefit analysis of universal paid sick days provision.

Recent reports on policy impacts on breastfeeding rates estimate that the breastfeeding protections in the 2010 Affordable Care Act will increase the national rate of breastfeeding through six months of age by four full percentage points, giving more women and their children the opportunity to draw from the health benefits associated with breastfeeding, such as protection from childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome, and diabetes.

View our suggested resources page or multimedia page for more information on this topic.

Latest Reports from IWPR

Valuing Good Health in New York City: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Jeff Hayes, Ph.D. (March 2013)

 

Valuing Good Health in New York City: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Claudia Williams (March 2013)

 

Valuing Good Health in Portland: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Claudia Williams (March 2013)

The briefing paper uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Oregon Public Health Division, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate costs and benefits of Portland’s “Protected Sick Time Act.” It estimates how much time off Portland workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. This analysis also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate cost savings associated with the policy, through reduced turnover, reduced spread of contagious disease in the workplace, prevention of productivity losses from employees working while sick, minimizing nursing-home stays, and reducing norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes. The study is one of a series of IWPR analyses examining the effects of earned sick days policies.

 

Testimony Before the Public Health and Human Services Committee of the Philadelphia City Council regarding Bill 130004, Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces
by Claudia Williams (March 2013)

 

Testimony on SB 698: Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act
by Claudia Williams (February 2013)

 

Paid Sick Days in Philadelphia Would Lower Health Care Costs by Reducing Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits
by Claudia Williams (February 2013)

Thirty-four percent of Philadelphia private-sector employees, or approximately 182,629 workers, lack access to paid sick days. This fact sheet reports findings from research by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) on how increased access to paid sick days would improve both accesses to health care and health outcomes in Philadelphia. The research also quantifies the savings gained by providing access to paid sick days to all private-sector workers, thereby preventing some emergency department visits in Philadelphia.

 

Access to Earned Sick Days in Maryland
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (February 2013)

A new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reveals that more than 700,000 private sector employees in Maryland lack even a single earned sick day. Access to earned sick days promotes healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illnesses, , increasing productivity, and supporting work and family balance. Earned sick days allow people to take time off work to recover from personal illnesses and to tend to family members’ health without the fear of lost pay or other negative consequences. This briefing paper presents estimates of earned sick days access rates in Maryland by occupation, by sex, race and ethnicity, and personal annual earnings, through analysis of government data sources, including the 2010–2011 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Valuing Good Health in Maryland: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Claudia Williams (February 2013)

The briefing paper uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate costs and benefits of Maryland’s “Earned Sick and Safe Time Act.” It estimates how much ime off Maryland workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. This analysis also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate cost savings associated with the policy, through reduced turnover, reduced spread of contagious disease in the workplace, prevention of productivity losses from employees working while sick, minimized nursing-home stays, and reduced norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes. The study is one of a series of analyses by IWPR examining the effects of earned sick days policies.

 

Valuing Good Health in Philadelphia: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Clau (January 2013)

Policymakers across the country are increasingly interested in ensuring that workers can take paid time off when they are sick. In addition to concerns about workers’ ability to respond to their own health needs, there is growing recognition that, with so many dual-earner and single-parent families, family members’ health needs also sometimes require workers to take time off from their job. Allowing workers with contagious illness to avoid unnecessary contact with co-workers and customers has important public health benefits. Paid sick days also protect workers from being disciplined or fired when they are too sick to work, help families and communities economically by preventing lost income due to illness, and offer savings to employers by reducing turnover and minimizing absenteeism.

 

Access to Paid Sick Days in Portland, Oregon
by Isela Bañuelos and Claudia Williams (December 2012)

Access to paid sick days promotes healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illnesses, increasing productivity, and supporting work and family balance. Paid sick days allow employees to take time off work to recover from personal illnesses and tend to family members’ health without the fear of monetary or other negative consequences. Despite the importance of paid sick days, a large proportion of workers in the Portland, Oregon, area receive no paid sick time at all. This fact sheet presents paid sick days access rates by occupation, sex, race and ethnicity, and personal income in the Portland area. The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) derived these estimates through analysis of government data sources including the National Health Interview Survey and the American Community Survey.

 

Recommendations for an Evaluation of the District of Columbia’s Paid Sick Days Law
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (September 2012)

This briefing paper presents recommendations for the evaluation and report on the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008.1 One provision of the Act, which mandates that employers in the District of Columbia provide paid sick days to some employees, requires the Auditor of the District of Columbia to prepare and submit a report on the Act’s impact.

 

How Increasing Breastfeeding Rates Will Affect WIC Expenditures: Saving Money While Meeting the Goals of Healthy People 2020
by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Jeffrey Hayes, Ph.D., and Youngmin Yi (August 2012)

This report analyzes the cost structure of WIC food packages in relation to breastfeeding, including estimates of total spending on each of the different packages, and estimates of total costs from simulations if Healthy People 2020 breastfeeding goals were reached.

#B307, Report, 35 pages
$10.00
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Valuing Good Health in Massachusetts: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (May 2012)

This report uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate the likely impact of the Massachusetts Act Establishing Earned Paid Sick Time. The study is one of a series of analyses by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) examining the costs and benefits of paid sick days policies. It estimates how much time off Massachusetts workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. It also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate how this leave policy would save money, by reducing turnover, cutting down on the spread of disease at work, helping employers avoid paying for low productivity, holding down nursing-home stays, and reducing norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes.

 

Valuing Good Health in Massachusetts: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days (Executive Summary)
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (May 2012)

This report uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate the likely impact of the Massachusetts Act Establishing Earned Paid Sick Time. The study is one of a series of analyses by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) examining the costs and benefits of paid sick days policies. It estimates how much time off Massachusetts workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. It also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate how this leave policy would save money, by reducing turnover, cutting down on the spread of disease at work, helping employers avoid paying for low productivity, holding down nursing-home stays, and reducing norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes.

 

Paid Sick Days in Massachusetts Would Lower Health Care Costs by Reducing Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., and Claudia Williams (May 2012)

Thirty-six percent of working Massachusetts residents, or approximately 910,000 employees, lack access to paid sick days. This fact sheet reports findings from research by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) on how increased access to paid sick days would improve both access to health care and health outcomes in Massachusetts. The research also quantifies the savings gained by providing access to paid sick days to all workers, thereby preventing some emergency department visits in Massachusetts.

 

Paid Sick Days in New York City Would Lower Health Care Costs by Reducing Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (February 2012)

In New York City, 50 percent of working New Yorkers, or approximately 1,580,000 employees, lack access to paid sick days. This fact sheet reports findings from research by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) on how increased access to paid sick days would improve both access to health care and health outcomes in New York City. The research also quantifies the savings gained by providing access to paid sick days to all workers, thereby preventing some emergency department visits in New York City.

 

Paid Sick Days and Health: Cost Savings from Reduced Emergency Department Visits
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Claudia Williams, and Youngmin Yi (November 2011)

Many states and localities, as well as the U.S. Congress, have considered legislation or ballot measures requiring that employers provide paid sick days to their workers. Such laws have been approved in the state of Connecticut, the cities of San Francisco and Seattle, and the District of Columbia. There has been much debate about the merits of such laws—which could affect the lives of the two-fifths of private sector employees without access to paid sick days—particularly regarding the costs and benefits for affected employees and businesses, as well as health effects for employees. This report focuses on the potential impact of paid sick days on the health of employees and their families and presents the following findings.

#B301, Report, 41 pages
$10.00
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Denver Paid Sick Days Would Promote Children’s School Success
by Sarah Towne, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Kevin Miller, Ph.D., and Barbara Gault, Ph.D. (October 2011)

Paid sick days for working parents can enhance children’s school success. Parents face a difficult choice if their children get sick when they lack paid sick days: staying home with the child and missing pay (and possibly facing discipline at work); sending the child to school sick, which compromises their school performance and spreads illness to others; leaving the child at home alone, putting the child at risk; leaving the child with an older sibling who in turn must stay home from school; or trusting the child to a temporary caregiver. Each of these scenarios has potential costs for schools or for child well-being. The negative effects of inadequate sick days coverage disproportionately affect people of color and low-income adults in Denver, because they are less likely than other Denver residents to be able to earn paid sick days. This paper by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) addresses how children's school success can be improved when working parents have access to paid sick days by reviewing published research, Denver Public Schools data, and information provided in interviews and surveys of Denver Public Schools personnel.1

#B300, Briefing Paper, 12 pages
$5.00
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Valuing Good Health in Denver: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (October 2011)

Voters in Denver will consider a referendum on the 2011 ballot regarding the issue of requiring employers to provide paid sick days. Using the parameters of the proposed law and publicly available data, this paper estimates the anticipated costs and some of the anticipated benefits of the law for employers providing new leave, as well as some of the benefits for employees. Employees of businesses with ten or more employees are estimated to use an average of 2.5 days annually out of a maximum of 9 that may be accrued, while employees at smaller businesses are estimated to use an average of 2.1 days annually out of a maximum of 5 accrued. The anticipated cost of the law for employers due to lost productivity and increased wages is equivalent to a 20 cent-per-hour increase in wages for employees receiving new leave. The anticipated savings for employers, notably a reduction in costly employee turnover, are expected to have a wage equivalent of a savings of 22 cents per hour. Annually, businesses in Denver are expected to expend $22.8 million in providing new paid sick days for employees. Providing new paid sick days is expected to yield benefits of $24.2 million annually, for a net savings for Denver employers of $1.4 million annually.

#B298, Briefing Paper, 25 pages
$5.00
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Paid Sick Days in Denver Would Improve Health Outcomes, Reduce Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities, And Help Control Health Care Costs
by Claudia Williams and Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (October 2011)

In Denver, 41 percent of the private-sector workforce, or 107,407 workers, lack access to paid sick days. In the present research, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates the improvements in access to health care and health outcomes that Denver workers without paid sick days and their families would experience if they were to gain access to paid sick days.

 
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