One organization is trying to sell employers in New York City on the idea of mandatory paid sick days for workers. Its reasoning?

Requiring companies to give employees access to paid sick days would:

  1. Improve employees’ health
  2. Decrease the likelihood that employees will delay medical care for themselves or their family members, and
  3. Reduce the number of visits to hospital emergency rooms, which would reduce healthcare costs by $35.5 million.

Those are the assertions of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWRP).

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2009-2010 National Health Interview Survey, the IWRP has estimated the size of the impact that access to paid sick days would have in New York City.

It estimates that when people don’t have paid sick days:

  • They’re less likely to seek medical treatment
  • They’re more likely to say they are in poor health, because they are not seeking treatment, and
  • If they do seek treatment, they’re more likely to do so in ERs — because they’re still open after work hours.

The problem with going to an ER versus a primary care physician: An average ER treatment costs about $826 more than a visit to a primary care physician, according to the IWRP.

Therefore, the IWRP predicts that if workers were given access to paid sick days, they’d be more likely to seek treatment at a primary care physician.

That would reduce the number of ER visits in the city by 47,858 per year, which adds up to $39.5 million in savings, estimates the IWRP.

It’s estimated 50% — about 1.6 million — of working New Yorkers lack access to paid sick days.

Do you agree with the IWRP’s stance that employers should be required to provide workers with access to paid sick days? Share your opinions in the Reply box below.


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