AAUW Issues: Paid Sick Days

The American Association of University Women is committed to promoting the economic, social, and physical well-being of all persons. AAUW works toward greater availability and access to a high standard of benefits and policies that promote work-life balance, including accrued, paid sick days.

For the 44 million Americans without paid sick days, a decision to stay home to care for a sick child or family member could jeopardize their jobs or family income. AAUW has long supported flexible workplace policies to address the family responsibilities of employees. Without sick days, employees often come to work ill, decreasing productivity and infecting co-workers.

Impact on Working Americans

About 40 percent of private-sector employees do not have paid sick days. Low-wage workers are especially hard hit, with 70 percent receiving no paid sick days. These low-wage workers often must go to work sick and contagious in industries that endanger public health, such as food service.

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Good for Employers and Employees

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance urges employers, regardless of the size of their business or services provided, to encourage sick workers to stay home without fear of losing their jobs.

By ensuring that hardworking Americans have access to a minimum number of earned sick days that can also be used to care for sick family members, working parents and caregivers will no longer have to make the difficult choice between caring for loved ones—or themselves—and losing much-needed income. For a family without paid sick days, three days of pay lost to illness are the equivalent of their health care budget, and three and a half days of pay lost are equivalent to their monthly food budget.

Additional Resources

Current Sick Days Laws
National Partnership for Women and Families

Paid Sick Days Access in the United States
Institute for Women’s Policy Research

AAUW’s Position on Work-Life Balance Policies

Download Printable Quick Facts on Paid Sick Days

Offering workers the option of taking time off when they or family members are sick is not just good for families, it’s good for business. The success of San Francisco’s paid sick days ordinance demonstrates how viable paid sick days can be for business and employees: Six out of every seven employers in San Francisco did not report negative profitability effects.

Women Disproportionately Impacted

More than 22 million working women do not have paid sick days, and as a result, more than half of working mothers report that they must miss work and often go without pay when caring for a sick child. Women disproportionately bear the economic cost of taking children or elderly family members to the doctor. Yet, many women delay seeking health care for themselves because they cannot take time off work, impacting their abilities as employees and primary caregivers.

Healthy Families Act

AAUW supports legislation such as the Healthy Families Act, which will provide seven accrued, paid sick days for full-time employees and a prorated number for part-time employees. Many states are also considering paid sick days legislation and ballot initiatives similar to the Healthy Families Act.