Over 60% of low-wage workers are still not entitled to paid sick leave at work

The pandemic has exposed huge inequalities in the United States, particularly in the US job market. Striking differences were compounded over who could work from home and who had to go to work in person, who could keep their job and who suffered from lost work or employment altogether, who had health insurance to seek care when they needed it and who didn’t and who had the opportunity to take paid sick leave to stay home when sick, get vaccinated or care for loved ones, and who didn’t. The latest data on employer benefits was released yesterday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Significant inequalities remain in access to benefits at work. One that hits hard is the inability of over 60% of the lowest wage workers in the US to earn paid sick leave to care for themselves or family members.

Figures Abelow shows that access to paid sick leave is very unequal: workers at the bottom end are disproportionately denied this important security. The highest paid workers (top 10%) are two and a half times more likely to be entitled to paid sick leave than the lowest paid workers (bottom 10%). While 96% of the highest paid workers had access to paid sick leave, only 38% of the lowest paid workers are able to earn paid sick days.

High-wage workers have paid sick leave; most low-wage workers do not: Share of private sector workers with access to paid sick leave, by wage bracket, 2022

category Percentage of employees entitled to paid sick leave
Bottom 25% 55%
second 25% 81%
third party 25% 86%
The top 25% 94%
bottom 10% 38%
Top 10% 96%
diagramdate download date

The following data can be saved or copied directly to Excel.