Safety and OSHA News

Does availability of paid sick leave affect workplace injuries?

A new study takes a look at the relationship between paid sick leave and workplace injuries. The results point to potential cost savings for employers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study shows workers with access to paid sick leave were 28% less likely overall to suffer nonfatal occupational injuries than those without access to paid sick leave.

Workers in high-risk occupations and industry sectors, such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and health care and social assistance, benefited most from paid sick leave.

The NIOSH study concludes that introducing or expanding paid sick leave can help businesses reduce the number of workplace injuries which in turn could reduce costs to employers.

NIOSH believes this is the first U.S. study of its kind.

What’s the link between paid sick leave and workplace injuries?

When employees don’t have paid sick time, they’re more likely to come to work ill. Workers who aren’t feeling well are more likely to perform at reduced functional capacity, making them less safe and more likely to be injured.

Previous research showed paid sick leave is associated with shorter worker recovery times and reduced complications from minor health problems.

The cost savings by reducing the number of workplace injuries include improved productivity.

Although the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires companies to provide up to 12 weeks of leave to eligible workers, this leave can be paid or unpaid.

In this study, 43% of U.S. private sector workers reported having no access to paid sick leave.

This study is part of the NIOSH Economics Program that focuses on improving the understanding of how economic factors, management strategies and demographic trends affect worker safety and health.

Does your company offer paid sick leave? If so, how much? Let us know about that and what you think about this study in the comments below.

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  1. What a load of crap!!!! Typically the type of job you have is connected to whether or not you have paid sick time. At most jobs I’ve had the white collars get paid sick time the blues don’t. Unless this study is comparing apples to apples it is completely bogus. Of course there will be less injuries for a white collar over a blue collar thus less injuries for those with paid sick time.

  2. Doug Skillman says:

    We have access to paid sick leave only after being sick and away from work for three work days AND seeing a physician (NOT retroactive). In my experience most illnesses last less than three days. Sooo, we come to work ill and yes, I’ve seen examples of employees performing at considerably less than their potential because they couldn’t afford to stay home.

  3. safety dude says:

    I love how they left out the elephant in the room, that is, the fraud aspect.

    If workers can’t get a day off using paid sick leave, they can make up an injury and maybe get sent home for the day. Or they can take it further…maybe they fake it well enough so that a doctor will put them off for a week or more to “recover”. All while being paid to do so. Do a study about how injuries increase once employees burn through their paid sick leave!

  4. What is interesting in this organization everyone has paid sick leave. The data shows that those that have used all or most of the accumulated sick leave are 70% more likely to report injuries or work related illnesses than those who have saved their sick leave. The same results show for saved annual leave. The less leave saved = greater % of claims for injury /illness.

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