Photo: Paid Sick Days
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has found that black and Hispanic workers do not get the same amount of paid sick days as their white counterparts, though both employees and employers have considered the days non-negotiable.
Using information from the 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the IWPR estimates that whites and Asian Americans have the highest rates of access to paid sick days at about 60 and 67 percent, whereas only 42 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of black workers have that same access.
It was also noted that white women are less likely than white males to have access to paid sick days, but surprisingly, Hispanic and black women have higher rates of coverage when compared to their overall populations, but still lower than that of the entire U.S. population, on average. Also, white women have lower rates of coverage than the entire white and Asian American populations.
“Wage and earnings inequality have been and continue to be linked to race, ethnicity and gender, but these estimates document an additional source of economic inequality in the U.S. – the ability to affordably take time off work in order to care for yourself or your family,” said IWPR research director, Robert Drago. “Equal access to paid sick days is important because anyone may become ill, or have a family member who suffers injury or illness.”
Executive director of the Women of Color Policy Network C. Nicole Mason said, “Access to paid sick days is a racial justice issue. The economic security of low-income families and communities depends on the passage of state and federal policies that ensure work-life balance.”
Coinciding with the IWPR findings, the NHIS released data that showed the average rate of access to paid sick days is 58 percent, and that a mere 23 percent of food service workers and 38 percent of personal care workers (primarily those working with the elderly) have access.
The NHIS data was collected from a survey of private sector workers.