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Paid Sick Days for Private Sector Jobs Would Significantly Improve Public Health in New Jersey
Nearly 40 percent of workforce lacks sick time benefits, report finds
EDITOR’S NOTE: Karen White, director of the Working Families Program at the Center for Women and Work may be contacted at 732-932-4614 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Providing paid sick days for New Jersey private sector workers would reduce the spread of flu, cut down on emergency room visits, and prevent hunger and homelessness among sick, low-income workers, according to a report released Thursday by The Center for Women and Work at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
But nearly 40 percent of workers, more than 1.2 million, do not get paid sick days, the report said.
The report, A Health Impact Assessment of Paid Sick Days Policy in New Jersey, was commissioned by the center on behalf of the New Jersey Time to Care Coalition, and funded by Family Values@Work, a multi-state consortium. The health impact assessment was conducted was conducted by Human Impact Partners (HIP).
The report, based on data from a wide range of sources, including published research, statistics on communicable disease outbreaks, and analysis of a 2007 National Health Interview Survey, found that providing paid sick days would have positive health results for all New Jersey residents. For example, more people would be able to comply with public health guidelines for controlling seasonal influenza as well as for the large-scale spread of new influenza, or pandemic flu. Between 2006–2009, there were 84 influenza (including H1N1) and influenza-like outbreaks in New Jersey.
"Research shows that workers without paid sick days are more likely to go to work sick with an illness like the flu and are more likely to send a sick child to school than workers who have paid sick days,” said Karen White, director of the center’s Working Families Program. “When this happens, contagious illnesses are more likely to be spread through our workplaces and schools, creating public health risks."
Providing paid sick days would also reduce the spread of foodborne illnesses from restaurants, healthcare and daycare facilities, restaurants, and other institutional and community settings. Currently, three out of four food preparation and service workers in New Jersey do not have paid sick days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 57 foodborne disease outbreaks between 2003 and 2007 in New Jersey, with 1,562 related cases of illness.
“Seventy-six percent of food service workers in New Jersey have no access to paid sick days.” White said. “This creates difficult choice for workers – stay at home, not get paid and risk losing their job, or go to work sick and put the public at risk because they can't get paid sick time.”
The report also finds that workers with the greatest needs for paid sick days, such as low-wage workers, are those that frequently do not have the benefit.
The Center for Women and Work (CWW) is an innovative leader in Research and Programs that promotes gender equity, a high skill economy, and reconciliation of work and well-being for all. CWW is located in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. CWW addresses women’s advancement in the workplace and conducts cutting-edge research on successful public and workplace policies. For more information about the Center, visit our website at: www.cww.rutgers.edu.
Human Impact Partners strives to create a world in which health is considered in all decision-making. This means that every decision-maker who plays a role in shaping public policies and planning decisions should understand the health impacts of their decisions before they are implemented, and use this information to protect and promote the health of all populations. For more information about HIP, visit us on our website at: www.humanimpact.