Lack of paid sick leave shortchanges rural workers

August 18, 2011 | Economic Opportunity Institute

From the Carsey Institute:

family photoRural workers have less access to sick leave, forcing them to choose between caring for themselves or family members, and losing pay or perhaps even their jobs when faced with an illness, according to new research from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

“Paid sick days are a central component of job flexibility for rural and urban workers alike. Everyone gets sick, and the lack of paid sick days can place workers in a bind, especially given that workers who lack paid sick days are also more likely to lack other paid leave options, such as vacation days,” said Kristin Smith, family demographer at the Carsey Institute and research assistant professor of sociology.

Smith and Andrew Schaefer, a research assistant at the Carsey Institute, found that 44 percent of rural workers lack access to paid sick days. In contrast, 34 percent of suburban and 38 percent of central-city workers have fewer than five paid sick days each year. Likewise, a higher proportion of rural than urban working parents lacks access to at least five days off to care for a sick child without losing pay or having to use vacation time. The proportions without coverage drop somewhat when only full-time workers are included, but the general pattern of a rural disadvantage remains.

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