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Earned Sick Days in Maryland Would Benefit Economy, Reduce Health Care Costs

Forty percent of Maryland workers get no sick time, with food workers least likely to be covered.

Currently, 40 percent (more than 700,000) of workers in Maryland lack earned sick leave. While many workers will likely need time off for reasons such as visits to the doctor, illness, or to seek services related to domestic violence, IWPR estimates that workers in Maryland will only use an average of 2.8 earned sick days per year.
Feb 22, 2013

Washington, DC—Providing earned sick days to workers in Maryland is expected to save employers in the state $2.5 million per year, largely due to reduced costs in turnover, according to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). The state’s proposed “Earned Sick and Safe Time Act” would also prevent lost worker income, reduce private and public health care expenses, and reduce expenditures on public assistance.

Currently, 40 percent (more than 700,000) of workers in Maryland lack earned sick leave. While many workers will likely need time off for reasons such as visits to the doctor, illness, or to seek services related to domestic violence, IWPR estimates that workers in Maryland will only use an average of 2.8 earned sick days per year.

When employees leave for more flexible work environments, employers face turnover costs from voluntary turnover of up to one-fifth of a worker’s salary. For lower-paid employees, the turnover costs tend to be reduced but still can present a setback to a business owner.

Fewer than one-quarter of food preparation and serving workers are estimated to have earned sick days. Fifty-seven percent of Hispanic workers lack earned sick days and are 44 percent less likely than white workers to have them. Nearly 7 out of 10 workers with annual personal earnings of less than $24,999 lack earned sick days.

"The ability to earn sick days contributes to healthy, productive workplaces and schools, supports family well-being, and helps communities contain contagious illness," said Dr. Barbara Gault, Vice President and Executive Director of the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

Workers with earned sick days are less likely to utilize hospital emergency departments, saving costs to both private and public insurers. Having access to time off can also allow workers to care for elderly family members, which can be beneficial to older Americans’ well-being and reduce their stays in nursing homes that can cost taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid.

About the Institute for Women's Policy Research
IWPR conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women's studies, and public policy and public administration programs at The George Washington University.

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