Healthcare workers who come to work sick are already a serious problem within the industry, but the issue is particularly acute among part-time workers without paid sick leave, according to a new study published in Health Affairs.
Researchers analyzed data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey for more than 18,000 working adults. They found about 10,500 respondents had paid leave, compared to 7,800 who didn't. The typical worker who did not have paid leave was male, Hispanic, less educated, uninsured and working part-time in the service industry.
In industries such as childcare, food service and healthcare, where coming to work sick can compromise others' health considerably, it's important that workers have the ability to "self-quarantine" without worrying about loss of job or income, which is considerably easier for those with benefits. However, such fields often do not offer workers such benefits, study coauthor Patricia Stoddard-Dare of Cleveland State University told Reuters.
The researchers, led by LeaAnne DeRigne of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, found workers without paid leave are three times as likely as those who have such benefits to forgo healthcare services.
The report highlights another area in which the United States lags behind other nations in healthcare outcomes and benefits. "In most countries, paid sick leave is regulated by legislation and relates to all enterprises in the countries concerned," Xenia Scheil-Adlung, health policy coordinator in the Social Protection Department of the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, told Reuters. "Financial protection in case of sickness includes both coverage of healthcare costs and income replacement."