More states mandating paid sick leave post-pandemic: 4 studies point to benefits

COVID-19 has spotlighted the importance of paid sick leave, with three states implementing paid leave laws after the pandemic's onset, according to a Sept. 16 article from the Pew Charitable Trusts. 

A recent New Mexico law requires private employers to give all workers — including part-time and seasonal workers — one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours per year. They are among the broadest sick leave protections in the country, according to Pew. 

Virginia and Colorado also mandated paid sick leave after the pandemic. Seventeen states and 20 cities and counties now have such laws. 

It was common practice to go to work sick before COVID-19, but this contributed to the virus's spread in its early stages — particularly in low-wage workers with high-transmission jobs at grocery stores and meat packing plants, according to Pew. 

The article spotlighted four studies that point to the benefits of paid sick leave: 

  1. States where workers received paid sick leave through a federal coronavirus response act saw on average 400 fewer COVID-19 cases per day than expected between March and May 2020, according to the journal Health Affairs
  2. Paid sick leave could reduce mortality rates up to 22 percent, according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
  3. Workers with paid sick leave seek preventive care more often, according to the journal Preventive Medicine
  4. Paid sick leave is associated with lower rates of suicide and homicide in men and lower rates of homicide and alcohol-related deaths in women, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

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