Access to Paid Sick Days and Family & Medical Leave

Everyone gets sick. Yet Granite State working families rarely have a parent or spouse outside the paid workforce who can be “on call” when a child gets sick or an elderly parent needs hands-on care. 

Over 200,000 New Hampshire workers lack access to a single paid sick day to recover from their own illness or to care for a sick child. Workers without access to paid sick days are nearly twice as likely as those with paid leave to report going to work with contagious illnesses, like the flu or viral infection. Across the U.S., it is especially common for women and workers in low-wage industries, including retail, restaurant and food service industries, to lack access to paid sick leave. 

The United States is the only economically developed nation that does not guarantee all workers a minimum number of paid sick days for personal illness or to care for a sick family member. Similarly, the United States is one of only three countries worldwide that do not guarantee a minimum period of paid, job-protected time off for the birth or adoption of a child (the other outliers are Oman and Papua New Guinea). 

In the absence of federal leave laws, states and municipalities are taking action to ensure that more workers have access to the time off they need for family caregiving or to recover from an illness, without having to worry about losing a full day’s pay or getting fired. Early returns from states that have implemented paid leave laws suggest that the impact on businesses and the economy has been neutral or slightly beneficial. 

Because of the high number of New Hampshire children (79%) who live in households in which all parents are employed and the growing importance of jobs in low-wage retail and hospitality industries to New Hampshire’s economy, it is especially critical for the state to consider legislative action to help more low- and middle-income working families get access to paid sick and family leave.


Over 80 Percent of New Hampshire Residents Support Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance
By: Kristin Smith, August 31, 2016 | UNH Carsey School of Public Policy

Paid Family and Medical Leave in New Hampshire: Who Has It? Who Takes It?
By: Kristin Smith, Nicholas Adams, September 20, 2016 | UNH Carsey School of Public Policy

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