Food safety and public health top the list of benefits of ensuring people working in Seattle have paid sick leave – but according to a new report, it would also improve children’s health and school performance, and provide support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. There are economic benefits too: paid sick leave reduces business costs through reduced turnover and absences, and increases workplace productivity and morale.
The report, produced by the Economic Opportunity Institute, takes a look at the numbers behind the discussion about paid sick days. A few highlights:
- Paid sick leave would help reduce the incidence of norovirus and other foodborne illness, and limit the spread of H1N1 and other common diseases. An estimated 190,000 people working in Seattle do not have any paid sick leave, including nearly 30,000 people in accommodation and food service; 20,000 retail and grocery workers; and close to 20,000 working in health services.
- Paid sick leave would help strengthen the health and school performance of children in Seattle schools. Studies show children recover more quickly from illness with a parent present – but for 74.4% of school-age children (and 64.2% of preschoolers) in Seattle, all parents in the family are in the work force. Children in families with low incomes are much less likely to have a parent with access to paid sick days.
- Paid sick leave would help support victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Economic independence one of the best predictors of whether a victim will separate from her abuser. But nearly half of sexual assault survivors surveyed by the Department of Justice in 2009 lost their jobs or were forced to quit in the aftermath of an assault. Among stalking victims who had a job, one in eight lost time from work.
- Paid sick leave would help increase employee retention and reduce turnover in all types of businesses. Estimated costs to replace just one full-time $12.00 per hour worker range from $6000 to $12,500. Policies that support flexible sick leave result in better retention and measurable declines in employee turnover in all types of businesses.