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FACT SHEET: Louisiana Families Need Paid Sick Leave

No one should be required to work when sick. Not only is it bad for the sick worker, it is harmful for their co-workers, their employer, and their community. In Louisiana, there is no guaranteed right to paid sick leave. The absence of such a policy has reverberating effects that are evident in the State’s poor health outcomes. When workers must choose between their own personal health and their family’s financial well-being, they often have no other option but to attend work while sick.

Paid sick leave will benefit Louisiana businesses. 

  • Paid sick leave has been shown to provide benefits to businesses including increased productivity, higher job satisfaction and commitment, reduced spread of contagious illnesses in the workplace, and direct savings for the business.
  • Paid sick leave helps reduce worker turnover, which leads to reduced costs incurred from recruiting, interviewing, and training new hires.
  • Paid sick leave also reduces the risk of “presenteeism”—the widespread phenomenon of workers coming to work with illnesses and health conditions that reduce their productivity—a problem that leads to costly disruptions for employers through the spread of illness in the workplace and costs the national economy $160 billion annually ($207.6 billion after adjusting for inflation).
  • According to a recent survey, paid sick leave is the top workplace benefit young adults prioritize. Young adults–millions of whom are caregivers–are disproportionately concentrated in jobs that are less likely to provide paid leave, so they would especially benefit from a statewide paid sick leave policy.

Paid sick leave is necessary to help rectify Louisiana’s low public health ranking.

Nationwide, nearly 33 million private-sector workers do not have access to paid sick leave, with low-wage workers, Latine workers, and African-American workers disproportionately less likely to have paid sick time. In the South, nearly 30% of workers do not have access to a single paid sick day. In Louisiana, it is estimated that over 40% of all workers in the state lack access to paid sick leave.

  • Louisiana consistently ranks near the bottom when it comes to America’s public health rankings, including factors such as mental health, drug-related deaths, and chronic health conditions.
  • Paid sick leave has broad public health benefits and helps reduce the spread of contagious illness. People without access to paid sick leave are more likely to go to work while they have a contagious illness and are nearly twice as likely to send a sick child to school or daycare than those with access to this critical protection.
  • A lack of access to paid sick days is particularly harmful for service industry workers. Nearly two-thirds of restaurant workers have cooked or served food while sick, and in 2011, nearly one in five food service workers went to work while vomiting or with diarrhea, creating dangerous health conditions. Over 167,240 workers are employed in the food service industry in Louisiana.
  • Workers with access to paid sick days report better general health than workers without it and are less likely to delay preventive medical care for themselves or their loved ones.
  • Because of their ability to seek preventive care, workers with paid sick days are also less likely to use hospital emergency departments, reducing national emergency department visits and medical costs by $1.1 billion annually.

Paid sick leave will enhance the overall prosperity of Louisiana families.

  • Paid sick days allow workers to deal with unexpected illness and family emergencies without sacrificing their income or savings, or even losing their jobs altogether. 
  • Implementing a state-wide paid sick day policy is an easy, achievable way to protect families’ economic security when they need it most. Louisiana must protect its working families by joining the growing number of states that have already enacted paid sick leave policies.

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