Paid sick leave is crucial to employees' ability to protect their health. Such leave allows workers to access medical care promptly and recuperate more quickly when they become sick, which leads to a shorter recovery time from acute illnesses. For workers with chronic conditions, paid leave provides time to obtain essential medications and follow through on treatment recommendations, and thus reduce the impact of their illness on their day-to-day functioning. Leave to care for health needs is also important for employees who are not experiencing an acute or chronic health problem, as it allows them time for preventive care. Besides enabling employees to prevent, recover from, manage and avoid exacerbating illness, all of which reduce their total absence from work, paid sick days decrease the likelihood that sick employees will spread infectious diseases to coworkers. Recent studies have shown that the costs that companies incur when sick employees come to work often surpass the costs of employees staying home when they are ill. The lost productivity associated with presenteeism has been demonstrated for a range of health problems, including migraines, depression and mononucleosis.
Parents play a crucial role in caring for their children's health care needs. Parents can contribute to the prevention of disease in children by immunizing their children and obtaining regular physicals. Parental involvement helps children recover more rapidly from illnesses, injuries, outpatient procedures and hospitalization. Evidence supports the importance of parental involvement with children with chronic conditions such as epilepsy, asthma, mental health issues and diabetes. However, the extent to which parents can help prevent their children from becoming ill or ensuring their recovery is frequently determined by their working conditions. Without flexibility or leave from work for children's health needs, parents often forgo crucial disease prevention measures. For example, studies in Haiti, Indonesia, and the United States have found that parents report work conflicts as a significant barrier to getting their children immunized. Working conditions also influence whether parents are able to care for their children when they are ill. Without paid leave to care for children's health needs, working families are placed at risk economically, experiencing wage and job loss when they take time off to care for family members.
The global population aged eighty or over - the age group likely to require the most care - is projected to grow rapidly, increasing from 88 million in 2005 to 402 million in 2050. While families continue to perform the bulk of caregiving for elderly and disabled family members in developing and industrialized nations, the base of available caregivers not working for pay is shrinking as more women worldwide work full-time. Without workplace supports that enable working adults to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities, the health and welfare of their older family members is at risk. Research has consistently indicated that adults with more support from family and friends live longer, have better outcomes from heart attacks and strokes, and experience better treatment outcomes for mental illness and other conditions. Flexible scheduling, part-time parity, and leave policies are the main workplace resources available to employees with adult caregiving responsibilities. When demands for care are high, workplace supports low, and working conditions poor, caregivers experience higher rates of conditions such as heart disease and depression. To add, in the absence of flexibility and paid leave, caregiving responsibilities can result in wage and job loss.