May 25, 2018

Study: Lack of paid sick leave increases poverty risk

Working adults who lack paid sick leave are three times more likely to earn paychecks below the poverty line, according to a recent study.

In a study conducted by Cleveland State University and Florida Atlantic University, data indicate that workers without paid sick leave benefits are more likely to suffer from food insecurity and require welfare services, regardless of a person's education, race, gender, employment or marital status.

The joint study was the first to measure the direct correlation between the absence of paid sick leave and the frequency of poverty, said Patricia Stoddard Dare, associate professor of social work at Cleveland State.

"This adds to the growing body of evidence that paid sick leave is a key factor in healthcare affordability and economic security," Dare said.

The study surfaces weeks after Connecticut lawmakers bucked the opportunity to vote on House Bill 5044, which would have broadened a paid medical-leave law passed in 2011.

Connecticut was the first state in the U.S. to adopt paid sick leave. Seven states currently mandate that certain employers provide paid sick leave, while a third of U.S. workers are without these benefits.

Under the bill, the state's sick leave mandate would have expanded to businesses with 20 or more employees, a change from current legislation that requires certain non-manufacturing businesses with at least 50 employees to provide each worker with as many as five days of medical leave per year to care for themselves or their children.

The tabled bill would have also expanded the definition of a child from a person under 18 years old to one who is under 26.

The expanded paid family and medical leave proposal was included in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's "Connecticut fairness" agenda unveiled in February during his final State of the State address.

The pay-equity legislation was the only proposal to reach the governor's desk from his progressive bill package.

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