42 Evidence that a state-wide paid sick leave policy reduces occupational injuries and illnesses

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IntroductionUnlike almost all other developed countries, paid sick leave is not mandatory for employers in the United States. Several states and municipalities have introduced paid sick leave policies. The first states to introduce such a policy was Connecticut, which passed a law requiring that employers offer ‘service workers’ one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked beginning in 2012. One previous study using a national survey found that workers who had paid sick leave were less likely to sustain nonfatal occupational injuries compared to those without paid sick leave. This study seeks to determine whether there has been a decrease in the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses in Connecticut following the introduction of their paid sick leave policy.MethodsData about the overall rate of occupational illnesses and injuries and occupation and industry specific rates were obtained from the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses for Connecticut and compared to rates for the United States overall and five other northeastern states. For all of the states and for the United States, the change in the average annual rate of occupational injuries and illnesses was compared for the four years before and after the introduction of Connecticut’s paid sick leave policy.ResultsThe decline in the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers was greater in Connecticut (17.1%, 95% Confidence Interval=9.5% to 24.6%) than the decline in any of the other states or the United States overall. The percent decline differed by occupation and industry.ConclusionThere seems to have been an impact of Connecticut’s paid sick leave policy on the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses pointing to potential additional benefits of these policies. Studying the impact of other states’ paid sick leave policies will be important in the future.

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