Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Businesses do better when employees have sick leave

See the full story at Bloomberg Businessweek

Five years after the city of San Francisco implemented a paid sick days ordinance, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research surveyed both employers and employees to determine the impacts on the city’s businesses and workforce. The results were overwhelmingly positive, easing concerns about job loss, shrinking profits and employee abuse of leave.

Since then, other cities and one state have joined San Francisco in increasing access to paid leave – particularly for low-wage and part-time workers. Seattle’s paid sick and safe time ordinance, the most recent legislation to pass, will take effect September 1, 2012. In the meantime, other cities and states are weighing the potential impacts for their own communities – and a growing body of research points to a number of benefits.

Advocates in New York City have been pushing a proposal for several years, gaining enough support from City Council members to have a veto-proof majority. Yet, it’s the Council’s Speaker, Christine Quinn, that’s preventing the bill from coming up for a vote – citing costs to business as her major concern. In response, IWPR prepared a new study about how the New York City paid sick leave proposal would affect businesses – namely, how much it would cost. While opponents fear overwhelming costs for business owners, IWPR finds New York business owners would enjoy a net increase in profits if the policy were to pass.

IWPR’s cost-benefit analysis finds businesses would ultimately gain $4 million due to reduced turnover, and the city itself would save nearly $41 million per year in health care costs due to the public health benefits of sick leave policies. The final report is scheduled for release in the coming weeks.

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