Sick of Inequality: Gender and Support for Paid Sick Days



      The availability of paid sick days (PSD) is on the forefront of policy issues relating to women's health and well-being. Previous research regarding PSD and other forms of family–work balance legislation has linked access to paid time off from work for addressing one's own or another's health concerns to a range of health benefits for working women and their families. In general, public support for such policies is high, but little work has tested the extent to which support extends to PSD. Researchers have yet to engage in a rigorous statistical analysis of public opinion on PSD, including whether opinion varies by gender.


      Using data from a 2013 poll of adults in New Jersey (n = 925), we bridged this research gap by conducting the first multivariate analysis of public attitudes toward PSD.


      As expected, we found markedly high levels of support for PSD across all respondents, with a preponderance of most sociodemographic categories supporting proposed PSD legislation in New Jersey. We also found that gender was a strong predictor of support for PSD, with women significantly (odds ratio, 1.916; p ≤ .01) more likely than men to be in favor of such legislation.


      We discuss the implications of our findings for future work on PSD as well as for research concerning women, wellness, and work-life legislation more broadly.
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      Danielle J. Lindemann is Assistant Research Professor and Research Director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She has research interests in gender, sexuality, work, and culture.


      Linda Houser is an Assistant Professor and Doctoral Program Director at Widener University's Center for Social Work Education. Her research focuses on public policy in the areas of employment, caregiving, health, and economic security.


      Karen White is Director of the Working Families Program at the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Her focus is on how research informs policy, particularly policies that affect working women and their families.