This post was written by Economic Opportunity Intern Danielle Zaragoza
All workers, regardless of education, race, or the kind of job they have should be able to provide for themselves and their families. A new peer-reviewed study by Cleveland State University and Florida Atlantic University shows that workers across the country without access to paid sick leave are three times more likely to be economically unstable. Specifically, the study’s results show that “even when controlling for the key variable of education, race, sex, marital status, and full-time work status, working adults without paid sick leave are three times more likely to have family income below the poverty threshold.”
Across the country, cities and states are expanding access to paid sick days so that workers don’t have to choose between economic security and taking time off work when ill. San Francisco was the first to enact a paid sick leave ordinance in 2006. San Francisco was followed by Washington, DC then Seattle in subsequent years. Currently, 44 cities, counties, states and Washington, DC have instituted paid sick days policies.
The Cleveland State study also finds that workers without paid sick leave benefits are more likely to lack access to enough food and to require public benefits. This is the first time that a study has shown “a relationship between paid sick leave benefits and being able to afford needed healthcare services and goods and being more vulnerable to economic hardship.” The study, which was published in two academic peer-reviewed journals – Social Work in Health Care and the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry – used secondary data analysis on the 2015 National Health Interview Survey to determine this correlation.
The authors argue that the main reasons for the correlation between poverty and a lack of paid sick leave are the lack of preventive care and the missed wages incurred by individuals and families who do not have access to paid sick leave. Workers should not have to choose between economic stability and taking a day off when they or a member of their family are sick.
Here in Texas, approximately 4.3 million Texas workers – or 40 percent of the total workforce – lack access to paid sick leave. It’s time for Texas to make the strides necessary to end the cycle of poverty and adopt a multi-city or statewide paid sick leave policy.
As Texans, we pride ourselves on hard work. Without adopting some type of paid sick leave policy, we are limiting the ability of the most vulnerable, hardworking Texans to become more economically stable so they can provide a better life for their families and future generations.
 Stoddard-Dare, Patricia, et al., Paid sick leave status in relation to government sponsored welfare utilization, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (2018).