Federal Report: Workers Without Paid Leave Quit Their Jobs More Than Workers With Paid Leave During the Pandemic

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A new report issued late last month by the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis shows that workers who did not have access to sick pay or paid family leave quit at significantly higher rates than workers who did have paid leave during the pandemic.

The report is based on internal data from 12 major firms, including AT&T, Boeing, Cisco and Walmart. Internal data is not typically publicly available to researchers studying workplace equity. Key findings include the following:

  1. Workers without paid sick leave quit at far higher rates than workers with paid sick leave. At one company, hourly workers without access to paid sick leave were three times more likely to quit in 2020 than hourly workers with paid sick leave. This reinforces other research that ties paid sick leave to worker retention.
  2. Workers who had access to and took paid family and caregiving leave were 86.2 percent more likely to stay at their job than workers who did not take paid family or caregiver leave, providing more proof that paid family leave improves employee retention. Moreover, 87.2 percent of those workers received raises after returning from leave, and more than half were promoted — showcasing that paid leave also improves productivity and performance.
  3. The data shows a significant divide between salary and hourly workers. Hourly workers, who are less likely to have access to paid leave or other benefits, were more likely to quit or be fired in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Additionally, female and Black hourly workers were more likely to quit or be fired than their white and male counterparts.

The U.S. and South Korea are the only two members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents 38 countries and most of the top economies in the world, without national paid-leave requirements for workers. The United States is one of only eight countries in the world without a national family leave policy. While 79 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid sick leave, the number drops to 35 percent for workers in the bottom 10 percent by income. Just 23 percent of all private sector workers have access to paid family leave.

Read our Guide to Family Forward Workplaces to learn more about how to offer paid family leave or paid sick leave in your workplace.