US Workers Are Getting Fewer Paid Sick Days

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We get fewer paid holidays and sick days on average than we did 20 years ago. On the bright side, we picked up a couple of vacation days, and more people have access to multipurpose paid leave.

The amount of paid sick leave the average private-sector worker gets has shrunk in the past 20 years, most sharply for longtime employees.

That’s according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Labor, which counted up the changes in all kinds of paid leave between 1992 and 2012. Here’s what  the report said:

  • Paid sick leave for full-time workers has become more widespread, available to about half of workers in 1992 and about 60 percent in 2012. But we get less of it — a day less for someone with a year of service, five days less for five years, six days less for 10 years, and seven days less for 20 years. Someone with two decades at a company now gets an average of two more sick days than someone with one year invested there.
  • One possible explanation for this is the rise of consolidated leave plans, which the government began tracking in 2005. These allow paid time off for a wider range of purposes, but “typically allow use of time off in small increments of a day or less,” the report says. A quarter of private-sector workers have access to them.
  • In general, access to leave and how much employers spend on it (after accounting for inflation) hasn’t changed much. Most people still get some kind of paid leave, with 84 percent of private workers getting either paid vacation, holiday or personal leave. Most (72 percent) get both paid holidays and vacations, and 61 percent get sick leave.
  • The average number of paid holidays has dropped from 10 days to eight, but the average number of paid vacation days increased by two for people with one, 10 and 20 years of service.

Have you seen changes to your paid time off? Are you happy about it, or not? Let us know on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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