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Historic Progress: 68 Percent of Private Sector Workers Now Have Paid Sick Days

Alex Baptiste, National Partnership | July 24, 2017

According to new data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in just two years, the share of people working for private sector businesses in the United States who can earn paid sick time has increased dramatically. Nearly 79 million private sector workers in the country now have access to paid sick days – a growth of 4 percentage points since 2016. This is encouraging news and a testament to the workers, advocates, business leaders and lawmakers who have helped win paid sick days nationwide.

In the last two years alone, 30 new paid sick days laws took effect – nearly 40 jurisdictions nationwide now have, or will soon have, paid sick days laws in place – and employers have increasingly stepped up to implement their own standards. During that time, the new data show that access increased across all wage levels and job categories, with the Pacific and New England regions showing notable growth. And research continues to confirm the widespread benefits of the policy for working people and families, communities and workplaces, businesses, and local and state economies.

This historic progress in such a short amount of time reflects meaningful changes for millions of workers and families, but more than 37 million private sector workers still cannot earn a single paid sick day. So, while we celebrate recent victories and growing culture change, we also must remember that progress needs to continue and hard-fought gains must be protected – especially at a time when important advances at the state and local levels are at risk of being undermined.

All working people need and deserve access to basic paid sick days protections, no matter where they live or who they work for. That is why we need a strong federal paid sick days standard, such as the one proposed in the Healthy Families Act. With so much momentum and support for paid sick days evident from coast to coast, the common sense legislation is a natural next step. More information on the need for paid sick days and a federal standard can be found here.

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