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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

More than Two-Thirds of Low-Wage and Food Service Workers Lack Access to Paid Sick Days in Oakland

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Jun 13, 2014

Washington, DC—A new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that 37 percent of Oakland’s private sector employees lack access to a single paid sick day. Access rates for low-wage workers earning less than $12.25 per hour in Oakland are particularly low, with 68 percent of those workers lacking access to paid sick days.

Paid sick days are especially uncommon in jobs that require frequent contact with the public. In Oakland, 71 percent of workers in city’s Food Services, Accommodation, Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation industry lack access to paid sick days. The analysis uses data from the 2012 American Community Survey and the 2011–2012 National Health Interview Survey to estimate paid sick days access in Oakland by sex, race and ethnicity, industry, and hourly earnings.

“Paid sick days are an inexpensive, effective tool for promoting public health,” said Barbara Gault, IWPR Vice President and Executive Director. “Paid sick days give workers the opportunity to seek health services or stay home with sick children or other family members, helping reduce the spread of illness.”

Previous research shows that about half of all workers who are covered by paid sick days plans do not take any days off for illness or injury in a given year. When used, however, this earned time allows workers and their families to obtain health care more promptly, leading to improved health outcomes, speedier recoveries, and a more productive workforce.

An IWPR evaluation on the impact of the paid sick days ordinance in nearby San Francisco found a full two-thirds of employers surveyed after the law’s implementation were supportive of the measure. Following implementation, another IWPR analysis found that job growth in San Francisco exceeded that of its surrounding counties.

Several other U.S. cities have passed paid sick days laws, including New York City; Washington, DC; Portland, Oregon; Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey; and Seattle, and available research 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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