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Letter: Paid sick leave benefits workers

Re: Michael Saltsman’s Aug. 16 column “Activists face third strike on paid sick leave proposal”: Saltsman presents the results of a new study evaluating the impact of Connecticut’s paid sick leave law in order to make the case that if a similar law were to be passed in Michigan it would result in reduced hours and wages for workers.

A careful review of the study, however, suggests that these claims might be exaggerated.

Saltsman cherry-picks findings from the report, misrepresenting the overall impact of the law that the report found. When one looks at the data for the workforce as a whole, the effect on worker wages is negligible. In fact, the finding that workers worked fewer hours after the law was implemented — with no impact on wages — may actually be a good thing. The goal of a paid sick leave law is to allow workers to stay at home when they or a family member is sick without fear of losing their job or a day’s pay. These results suggest that the law in Connecticut has accomplished just that. Further, the cited 10 hour decrease in annual hours worked suggests that workers are probably not abusing their newly earned paid sick leave as Saltsman suggests.

Research finds that paid sick leave benefits workers, employers, and communities, by reducing contagion, increasing use of preventive care, reducing emergency room visits, allowing parents to stay home to care for sick children, and improving worker productivity and safety. All developed nations except the United States require the provision of paid sick days, a common sense policy that is necessary for a healthy economy and community.

Jessica Millis, study director

Institute for Women’s Policy Research