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Paid Sick Leave Promotes Proactive Healthcare

By John Commins  
   March 05, 2018

Researchers found a 26% to 85% increase in preventive healthcare use among employees with at least 10 or more paid sick leave days compared to those with two or fewer paid sick leave days.  

Workers with 10 or more paid sick days are far more likely to seek preventive healthcare services such as flu shots, cholesterol screenings, and mammograms, a new study shows.

Researchers from Cleveland State University and Florida Atlantic University used a sample of 3,235 working adults age 49 to 57 in 2014 from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

More than 93% of the sample had some sort of healthcare plan. The median number of paid sick days was seven, with 27% reporting no paid leave sick days. Only 10% had 20 or more paid sick days, 26% had two or fewer sick days, and 43% had 10 or more paid sick days.

"It took 10 or more days — more days than are mandated in any of the local U.S. paid sick leave laws – for us to see statistically significant increases in the likelihood of reporting having received a flu vaccination, mammography, and screenings for blood sugar and blood pressure," said study lead author LeaAnne DeRigne, an associate professor in social work at FAU.

"For policy makers who want to increase preventive health care services use in this age group, a longer and more generous paid sick leave plan of at least 10 days should be considered," DeRigne said.  

Female-focused preventive services showed a 55% increase in the use of preventive mammography.

Workers with 10 or more paid sick leave days had a 33% increase in getting a flu shot, a 28% increase in screening their blood sugar, and a 69% increase in checking their blood pressure as compared to those with zero to two paid sick leave days. Employees with 10 or more days of paid sick leave also had a 34% increase in cholesterol screening.

Study co-author Patricia Stoddard-Dare, an associate professor of social work at Cleveland State, said the study findings show that a lack of paid sick leave influences work health and public health.

"Workers who lack paid sick leave are more likely to go to work when they are sick and spread contagious diseases, such as influenza, in the workplace," Stoddard-Dare said. "Paid sick leave is incredibly valuable because it provides both job protection and pay during times when employees must miss work for health related reasons."

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.

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