Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and during typical years, paid sick and medical leave are powerful tools for preventing the spread of infectious disease and ensuring all workers can recover from illness and access treatment without losing income. Yet tens of millions of workers across the United States (U.S.) lack coverage.
Recently published in Health Affairs, WORLD has released the first study to analyze how common sick and medical leave eligibility criteria in the U.S. affect access to leave—finding marked gaps in access along racial, ethnic, and gendered lines. Further, the study analyzes national paid sick and medical leave policies in 193 countries to assess whether or not restrictions that exclude workers at small businesses, part-time workers, and workers at new jobs are common or necessary. Global data makes clear that providing paid medical leave to all workers for three or more months for major illnesses without exclusionary eligibility criteria is readily achievable—and represents a clear path to advancing health equity in the U.S.
To access the policy data and learn more, please explore the resources outlined below:
- Press Release
- Policy Brief: Adopting Permanent Paid Sick and Medical Leave in the U.S. and Closing Racial & Gender Gaps in Access: Global Insights on Effective, Equitable Policy Design
- Interactive Global Policy Maps
- Op-ed: "The American economy cannot afford to forgo paid medical leave", The Hill
- Journal Article: Heymann SJ, Sprague A, Earle A, McCormack M, Waisath, W, Raub, A. U.S. Sick Leave in Global Context: US Eligibility Rules Widen Inequalities Despite Readily Available Solutions. Health Affairs. July 2021.
- Editorial: Mays V, Cochran S, Sprague A, Heymann J. Social Justice Is Not the COVID-19 Vaccine Alone: It Is Addressing Structural Racism Through Social Policies That Shape Health. AJPH.
- Download the policy data
Senior Research Analyst and Outreach Coordinator
WORLD Policy Analysis Center
Phone: (310) 983-3350