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Without Paid Sick Leave, Workers’ Mental Health Suffers

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mental health sick day

Not allowing workers to take paid sick leave affects more than just their physical health. Their mental health also suffers – and devastating consequences result.

A study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry suggests workers who don’t get paid sick leave report poorer mental health than those who have it.

Researchers looked at data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey. Of the 17,897 working adults analyzed, those without paid sick leave were 1.45 times more likely to report struggling with its impact on their lives and activities.

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According to the United States Department of Labor, there aren’t any federal laws that require companies of any size to offer their employees paid sick leave. Even the Family and Medical Leave Act only provides a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a variety of circumstances. That is, of course, as long as the company you work for employs over 50 people, you’ve been working there for at least 12 months, and you’ve worked a certain number of hours within that time period.

Unpaid leave could make people sicker. If someone needs to take a sick day, it’s possible they’re already under mental stress, physical stress, or both. The last thing they need is to have to worry about not getting paid, on top of worrying about illness.

There could even be short- and long-term benefits to encouraging employees to take occasional days off for mental health reasons – including improved productivity at work and for companies as a whole. Forcing people to come to work when they aren’t well, regardless of the reason, doesn’t do a workplace any good.

Do more companies need to adjust their policies for sick leave? It’s something to seriously consider. Especially if it means more individuals can better manage their stress and get the mental health care they need.

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