Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

New survey yields insights into Seattle employees’ experiences with sick and safe leave law

Space_Needle_croppedTo gain additional insight into the extent to which lower wage workers in Seattle are aware of the sick leave law and have access to paid sick leave, the Economic Opportunity Institute conducted a survey in partnership with the YWCA Seattle|King|Snohomish in the spring of 2015.

One standout finding: Life doesn’t happen in averages. Just under half (48%) of all respondents used no sick days in the past year — but among those who did (52%) usage varied from 1 to 6 days. This highlights the need for paid sick/safe leave policies that aren’t based on the notion workers will use some “average” number of days in a year.

Other findings:

  • The majority of respondents said their employer provided paid sick leave: 63% were aware that their employer provided paid sick leave, 20% said their employer did not provide paid sick leave, and others were unsure or did not respond to the question.
  • Women respondents were more likely to use sick leave than men, both for themselves and family care. Whites were more likely than Black, Latino, and Asian respondents to use leave.
  • Workers with higher incomes were far more likely to have access to and have used paid sick days, and much less likely to face retaliation, than the lowest income workers. Women were twice as likely as men to have been punished for calling in sick.

Altogether, 83 people who had worked in Seattle during the preceding year participated. The responses to this survey provide insight into how widely Seattle’s sick leave law is being followed, but are not statistically valid for all Seattle workers.

Read the full issue brief here »

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