Employer practices

Who Has Access to Paid Sick and Safe Leave?

October 18, 2023
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Although no federal mandate for paid sick leave exists, states, counties, and cities across the United States have enacted laws guaranteeing paid sick and safe days for workers recovering from an illness, caring for a sick family member, and finding care in the aftermath of domestic violence. These laws, however, vary considerably across jurisdictions.

This report examines the 36 paid sick and safe day laws in effect as of 2022, providing benchmarks for equitable leave policies.

The primary findings include:

  • Almost all paid sick and safe day laws (97 percent) protected workers from job loss and retaliation while on leave.
  • While most paid sick day policies covered full-time, part-time, and temporary workers, 71 percent required employees to work 90 days before they could use their accrued leave.
  • 77 percent of paid sick day laws mandated that workers who typically earn the tipped minimum wage should instead receive the regular minimum wage while on leave.
  • All paid sick day laws allowed workers to receive preventative care, care for their physical or mental health, or care for a family member’s physical or mental health. However, the definition of family varied among policies. Whereas all paid sick day laws covered children and spouses, only 80 percent covered partners.
  • 22 percent of paid safe day laws did not provide coverage for family members.
  • Paid safe leave mandates in each state, county, and city largely mirrored paid sick leave laws, although coverage differed based on business size in some cases. Whereas all paid safe day laws applied to businesses of five people or more, 13 percent of paid sick day laws applied only to businesses of 50 people or more. Most laws (63 percent), however, required coverage for both paid safe and sick days regardless of business size.

Using the data collected, the research team also created a chart that government officials, businesses, workers, and labor advocates can use to assess the equitability of their local laws.

To guarantee equitable access to paid sick and safe leave, state and local governments must ensure coverage for all workers, regardless of how often they work, how long they’ve been at a job, the size of their employer, or their definition of family.

Data from the WORLD Policy Analysis Center is available here.