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Paid Sick Leave May Reduce Work Injuries

New York Times Online (08/06/12) Nicholas Bakalar

Offering paid sick leave might reduce the rate of nonfatal injury among workers and improve the bottom line at the same time, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers found that from 2005 to 2008 the injury rate per 100 workers among those with paid sick leave was 2.59, compared with 4.18 among those without.

The availability of sick leave and the probability of injury varies by industry, sex, education level, and geography. But even after accounting for these and other variables, the researchers found that the odds of a nonfatal injury were 28% lower among workers with paid sick leave. The lead author of the study, Abay Asfaw, a senior service fellow at CDC, says that providing paid sick leave may benefit both employers and workers. “We can infer,” Asfaw says, “that lower injury rates mean lower levels of workers’ compensation payments. In the long term, paid sick leave might help employers to reduce cost and increase profit.”