The Health Benefits of Paid Sick Leave Reach Farther Than You Think
Play • 26 min

Most office workers think of paid sick leave as a benefit for them and their family members, but there are societal benefits to paid sick leave as well.

Since 1993, the United States has guaranteed access to unpaid sick leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) but that guarantee leaves out a large number of workers. A growing number of US states and localities have sought to fill-in some gaps of the FMLA, but many remain.

Jody Heymann from the University of California, Los Angeles joins A Health Podyssey to talk about access to sick leave, both paid and unpaid.

Heymann and colleagues published a paper in the September 2021 issue of Health Affairs documenting how FMLA eligibility requirements contribute to racial and ethnic disparities. They found that FMLA eligibility restrictions exclude over half of private sector and self-employed workers from coverage. In addition, they found higher rates of exclusion among female black, Indigenous and multi-racial workers.

Join the conversation and listen as Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Alan Weil interviews Jody Heymann about why the US stands alone globally in having such a limited safety net for sick leave — and what it means for population health.

If you like this interview, order the September issue of Health Affairs.

Order the October Perinatal Mental Health Theme Issue.

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