2.0 Policy Package

Earned Sick Leave

When we’re sick or injured, we need paid time off from work to rest and heal. Cities that require companies to offer Earned Sick Leave ensure that all employees feel secure in their jobs when they fall ill — and keep communities healthy by stopping the spread of contagious illness. Providing Earned Sick Leave can also save employers as much as $1 billion per year as employees can take the time they need to recover from flu-like illnesses — and stop the spread to other employees.

The Earned Sick Leave Challenge

  • One in three people who work in the private sector — and one in four people who earn the lowest wages — do not have access to earned sick leave.
  • The economy suffers when workers report to work sick. In addition to the risk of transmitting illness, the decrease in productivity from workers who are feeling ill is estimated to cost the national economy $160 billion annually.
  • Most people who lack access to earned sick leave are low-income or people of color, including 70% of workers with the lowest wages. Retail and service workers are among the least likely to have access to paid sick leave through their employers, and low-wage workers, people of color, and women are overrepresented in these industries.

A Healthy Solution: Earned Sick Leave

  • Stops the Spread of Contagions — People without Earned Sick Leave are 1.5 times more likely to go to work with a contagious illness like the flu or a viral infection than workers who have Earned Sick Leave. This risks infecting more employees and affecting the productivity of everyone in the workplace.
  • Reduces Employer Costs When people work when they’re sick, it actually costs employers more than if they offered Earned Sick Leave. In cities with Earned Sick Leave laws, business owners report little to no financial costs.
  • Protects Low-Income Workers People who work low-income jobs and have Earned Sick Leave have the protections they need to seek medical care, get rest, and heal.
  • Improves Community Health Providing workers with time off to seek early or preventive care helps keep all city residents healthier and saves money in long-term health care costs.

The state of earned sick leave policies in big US cities

36 out of 75 cities received a medal for earned sick leave policies, including eight golds, nine silver, and 19 bronze.

Measuring cities’ Earned Sick Leave policies

How will we award earned sick leave medals?Bronze medalBronze MedalSilver medalSilver MedalGold medalGold Medal
City has an earned sick leave lawRequired for this MedalRequired for this MedalRequired for this Medal
Employee can use earned sick leave to care for family membersNot Required for this MedalRequired for this MedalRequired for this Medal
Employee can use earned sick leave for domestic violence recoveryNot Required for this MedalRequired for this MedalRequired for this Medal
Minimum amount of earned sick leave time an employee can earn Not Required for this MedalRequired for this Medal≥40 hoursRequired for this Medal≥48 hours
Smallest business size covered under earned sick leave lawNot Required for this MedalNot Required for this MedalRequired for this Medal1 employee

Cities with Earned Sick Leave Laws