“Because paid leave is costly, when firms provide this benefit, they change the composition of their employees’ total compensation by reducing the value of workers’ take-home pay to offset the cost of providing paid leave. While some workers prefer this mix in their pay packages, others don’t. In particular, mandated leave would be a hard trade-off for many lower-paid women who would prefer as much of their income as possible in the form of take-home pay.
In fact, polls show that when women learn of the trade-offs inherent in any government-mandated paid-leave policy, their support for such a policy collapses.”
“A well-cited NBER paper looks at Denmark’s very generous paid leave policy and finds that before having children, women’s hours, employment, and wages are equal to those of men, but that these metrics all worsen relative to men after having children. Another recent NBER paper expands on this research and shows that while this divergence also exists in the United States, it’s significantly smaller here.”
“Employees in the service industry especially, like food workers or personal care assistants, are much less likely than their peers in more lucrative fields to have paid time off if they get sick. But they also make less money in general, meaning a lost day of work hurts their families’ budgets more. That gives them a strong motivation to go into work — even if they’re not feeling well.
And because these workers come in close contact with the rest of humanity, they are a potent vector for spreading contagions, particularly those as infectious as coronaviruses. It’s a recipe for making a bad outbreak even worse, all because America hasn’t decided to guarantee paid sick leave for all workers.”
“America is alone among advanced economies in not having a national guarantee of paid sick leave for workers.”
“Paid sick leave is usually treated as a principle of basic economic justice: People shouldn’t become financially insecure because they get sick and have to miss work. But when we have an outbreak like coronavirus, the failure to provide that security is actively making our society more vulnerable to a big outbreak.”