Unpaid sick leave can cause medical negligence

Mar 08, 2016, 4:33 PM EST
(Source: Tina Franklin/flickr)
(Source: Tina Franklin/flickr)
A study conducted in the United States found that workers without paid sick leave are more likely to continue going to work when ill, endangering themselves, other employees, and forgoing medical care for their families. Workers with paid sick leave are able to “self-quarantine” without fear of losing their jobs or sickening coworkers. Reuters reports:
While 70 percent of the U.S. workforce in full-time jobs has paid sick leave, only 19 percent of part-time workers have that benefit, the authors write in Health Affairs.
The researchers used data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey on a representative proportion of the civilian non-institutionalized population. More than 18,000 working adults ages 18 to 64, one from each included family, were interviewed by a Census Bureau employee in person or by phone.
Roughly 10,500 participants had paid sick leave benefits, while 7,800 did not. Those without were more likely to be male, unmarried, less educated, Hispanic, to work in the service industry, to work part time, be uninsured and have poor health.
“The personal health care consequences of delaying or forgoing needed medical care can lead to more complicated and expensive health conditions,” said lead author LeaAnne DeRigne, Ph.D., an associate professor of social work at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. “We also need workers to be able to take their children to annual pediatrician appointments and for needed immunizations. Missing a day’s wages can be especially hard for low-income workers who are also the ones more likely to lack paid sick leave and to have children with special healthcare needs.”
The researchers found that people without paid sick leave took fewer days off due to illness or injury each year: They took fewer than four days off a year, compared to just over five days among those with paid sick leave, the study revealed.
Those without paid sick leave were three times more likely to delay medical care for themselves due to cost. People without paid sick leave about twice as likely to forgo medical care for a family member because of cost, the study showed. And, those without paid sick leave were also more likely to have recently visited an emergency room.