Paid Sick Leave Keeps Workers Out of Poverty

Wages are crucial, but more and more, benefits are helping to make the job. Some perks are more essential than others, while others are true necessities. New research shows that paid sick leave can be one deciding factor keeping you out of poverty.

Social work experts at Florida Atlantic University and Cleveland State University have finally confirmed something employee advocates have long suspected. "The data indicates that, even when controlling for education, race, sex, marital status, and employment, working adults without paid sick leave are three times more likely to have incomes below the poverty line," according to a press release. The study also found that workers without paid sick leave were more likely to rely on welfare programs and food stamps, which indicates food insecurity.

Paid sick leave creates a ripple effect for workers. First, not coming in to work while ill helps them recover more quickly, while at the same time not infecting anyone else on the job. Not missing wages also means life is less precarious, both in the short term and the long. And yet, only seven states in the U.S. mandate paid sick leave; a full one-third of U.S. workers lack these protections entirely.

There are arguments that instituting paid sick leave can save state and local governments money, but most importantly, it's a quantifiable action that can lift people out of poverty. Whether you're an employee or a business owner, this study is peer-reviewed evidence that companies are positioned to do their communities real, tangible good at relatively little cost.