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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Earned Sick Time in Chicago Would Benefit Business, Reduce Health Care Costs

Washington, DC—As Chicago City Council legislators consider the Earned Sick Time Ordinance, new research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates that providing paid sick days to newly covered workers is expected to yield savings of more than $6.4 million annually, after employer costs and benefits are calculated.
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Mar 05, 2014

Washington, DC—As Chicago City Council legislators consider the Earned Sick Time Ordinance, new research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates that providing paid sick days to newly covered workers is expected to yield savings of more than $6.4 million annually, after employer costs and benefits are calculated.

More than 461,000 Chicago employees lack access to a single paid sick day, and approximately 260,082 of Chicago’s private sector workers lack paid leave benefits of any kind, including vacation, and are eligible to receive new leave under the Ordinance. The law would allow employees at small and large business to earn sick time annually to use for their own illness or to care for a family member. Based on previous usage patterns, IWPR estimates that covered workers will use an average of 2.5 days annually out of a maximum of nine for large businesses, and 2.1 out of a maximum of five for small businesses (excluding leave for maternity).

IWPR analysis finds that expanded access to earned sick time would reduce public health costs by allowing workers to seek health care from doctor’s offices and clinics during regular hours instead of relying on costly emergency department visits. IWPR estimates that if Chicagoans without earned sick time were to gain access, about 22,000 emergency department visits per year would be prevented, reducing public health care costs by $12 million annually, with $3 million of those savings to tax-payer funded programs like Medicaid.

“From a public health standpoint, it is essential that workers are able to stay home or seek healthcare for themselves or their children when they are sick,” said Barbara Gault, IWPR Vice President and Executive Director.

Earned sick time reduces contagion, protects workers from being disciplined when they are too sick to work, improves job stability, and helps families economically by preventing lost income due to illness.

Several U.S. cities have passed paid sick days laws, including New York City; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; Jersey City and Newark, New Jersey; Seattle; and San Francisco.

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a non-profit 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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