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PunditFact: Many workers have no paid sick days but some have paid time-off options

The statement

"About 40 percent of workers don't … have a single paid sick day."

Vicki Shabo, of the National Partnership for Women and Families, Dec. 12 on MSNBC's The Cycle

The ruling

Shabo's source: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2013 National Compensation Survey.

The data show 61 percent of all private sector workers were offered paid sick leave, leaving about 40 percent without it. The BLS count for public and private workers, excluding those who are self-employed or work for the federal government, is a tad higher at 65 percent. State and local government workers have a much higher rate of getting paid sick leave compared with other sectors, at about 89 percent.

Employees of smaller firms and the leisure and hospitality sector are the least likely to have paid medical leave, the survey shows. The rate of paid sick leave increases with pay level, with the rise of white-collar jobs being the main reason that more workers have access to paid sick leave than 20 years ago.

Under current law, workers are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for reasons that include childbirth, caring for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health issue, dealing with a serious health problem of their own, among others.

According to the Department of Labor, nearly 60 percent of workers are eligible for unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act of 1993, and 13 percent reported taking leave under FMLA in the past year.

We checked in with the conservative Employment Policies Institute, which opposes pro-labor policies. Research director Michael Saltsman said Shabo's statistic, while accurately sourced, does not account for workers given a pool of hours to use for vacation, illness or personal reasons.

Widening the scope shows 77 percent of private-sector workers receive paid vacation time, he said, referencing the BLS.

"Of course, that makes the statistic appear far less 'shocking' than Shabo would like it to be," Saltsman said.

Consolidated leave plans, which offer employees a block of leave time per year to use for various reasons, are becoming more popular for American workers, particularly those in the insurance and health care sectors, according to the BLS. The BLS found 26 percent of all workers were offered consolidated leave plans in 2012.

That caveat is enough to rate this claim Mostly True.

Edited for print. Read the full version at

PunditFact: Many workers have no paid sick days but some have paid time-off options 12/27/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 27, 2013 4:28pm]
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