Paid leave from work contributes significantly to workers’ ability to maintain their own health, care for their families, and maintain financial stability, as well as to remain productive members of the workforce. Workers without access to paid leave have little choice but to quit their jobs during times of serious illness or other family crisis.
Access to paid leave varies considerably, as the following table shows. Full time workers with paid leave average 11 days of sick leave and 10 days of vacation annually after one year on the job. After five years, the averages increase to 15 days of sick leave and 14 days of vacation.
Labor unions have been able to win generous benefit packages for some workers, and some employers have voluntarily adopted family friendly policies. But without public policies requiring paid leave for all workers, a significant percentage of workers will remain without this important benefit, and will be extremely vulnerable to falling from self-sufficiency into poverty and dependence on public programs in times of family illness or stress.