Universal Paid Sick Leave Would Save NYC Millions

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) released a new fact sheet that shows just how cost effective paid sick leave is in keeping public health costs down.

The fact sheet focuses on New York City but the analysis fits the larger scale. In New York City universal access to paid sick days in New York City would reduce health care costs by $39.5 million annually, including $28.4 million in public health care dollars. Currently, the city has approximately 1,580,000 employees, or about 50 percent of all workers, who lack paid sick days.

In a statement released the fact sheet IWPR elaborated on their findings.

“Paid sick days help people to address their medical needs in a timely fashion without using hospital emergency departments, improving health outcomes and reducing the cost of health care,” said Kevin Miller, study author and Senior Research Associate at IWPR.

Further findings from the report show that providing access to paid sick days not only protects the public who may come into contact with an ill employee, but also allows workers to better care for their own health and the health of their families. After accounting for demographic factors and chronic health conditions, access to paid sick days is a statistically significant predictor of lower likelihood of delaying medical care and fewer visits to hospital emergency departments.

Paid sick days allow employees the time to visit a doctor rather than having to resort to more urgent and expensive emergency room care if a condition persists or worsens. Delaying medical care can aggravate chronic health conditions or increase the severity of critical health conditions or injuries. Previous IWPR research shows a net savings of $826 per event treated at a primary care physician rather than a hospital emergency department.

Paid sick leave legislation proposed in New York City would require businesses with 20 or more employees to offer 9 sick days a year and smaller businesses to offer 5 days. When last introduced, the bill had 35 sponsors in the New York City Council-which is one more than required to overcome a potential veto by the mayor-but Council Speaker Christine Quinn did not allow the Council to vote on the bill.

At a national level, IWPR research found that access to paid sick days would save $1 billion in reduced emergency department use, half of which comes out of taxpayers’ pockets through coverage under public health insurance programs.

The report, on the heels of the anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act underscores the fiscal benefit from offering paid sick leave. Now if only our representatives and businesses were paying attention.


Related Stories:

Family and Medical Leave Act 19 Years Later: Big Impact Big Challenges

SCOTUS Consider Medical Leave For State Workers

Photo from anna gutermuth via flickr.


Kamryn M.
Kay M6 years ago


Mary B.
Mary B7 years ago

How can it be that business need to be convinced of such an obvious thing? Of course people need to stay home when they're sick! See how many reasons you can come up with why, both from the work place standpoint and the costomer of the product or service standpoint.And if the employer doesn't have enough sense to send you home when you show up sick, you, as the sick person needs to take the responsibility to stay home and start demanding paid sick days. You are not slaves for gods sake and nobody is going to be impressed with how you muddle thru.

Nancy L.
Nancy L7 years ago

As long as it's not funded by the govt.

Pam EL A A.
P A7 years ago

The concept of paid time to be "sick" makes so much sense. Workers who do not have paid sick leave benefits are more than likely in jobs where they're in contact with the public, and evidently, as the article eludes to, may not have health care insurance either. Taking care of one's health should not come at the expense of loss of pay.

Josephine T.
Josephine T7 years ago

John M - sounds like the GOP healthcare plan: "don't get sick, and if you do, die quickly". Guess what? Getting sick happens! Too bad employers don't like to believe that of their underpaid workers.

John Mansky
John Mansky7 years ago

When your sick you should be in bed! Or at least NOT in work to spread your illness! If no insurance coverage,then DO NOT GET SICK! Period...Stay healthy!!!

Sue Jones
Sue Jones7 years ago

The 1% are terrified that someone else is going to "get something for nothing". Good to hear some common sense for a change.

Jose Ramon Fisher Rodrigu

Unfortunately, this is the only argument that could convince people in the US to change policies.

Brenda M.
Brenda Morales7 years ago

It would seem that paid sick leave would also ensure better productivity. I know that if I decide to go to work when I am not feeling well, my job performance suffers. As a teacher, I have to be at my best every day, or my students don't get the education they deserve and they could get catch whatever I have! Any employer who wants an employee to come in sick doesn't have a brain or a heart.

Nicholas L.
Nicholas L7 years ago

When I worked in the culinary field we were never allowed sick days, think about that the people that make your food not allowed to stay home since restaurants are usually way understaffed. We would just not show up when we were too sick, then get written up then next day we came in. I think everyone should have sick days at least 3-4 for a year.