Kaiser Family Foundation Survey: Employers are Strengthening Paid Leave Benefits During the COVID-19 Pandemic, but Gaps Remain


More employers are offering paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey of 1,700 employers across the country conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Nearly four in 10 workers are employed at a workplace that began offering paid leave or expanded their existing paid leave benefits during the pandemic, according to the survey results.

Nearly one third of employees surveyed (31 percent) say their employer began offering or expanded paid sick leave. Seventeen percent of employees say their employer began offering or expanded paid family and medical leave. Only one percent of workers say their employer reduced or eliminated either of their paid leave benefits.

Workers at small firms (3-199 workers) are more likely than workers at large firms (200 or more workers) to say their employer began offering paid sick leave for the first time. This is a step toward closing a gap — in 2019, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that only 67 percent of small businesses (up to 200 employees) offered paid sick leave, versus 94 percent of larger employers (200 employees or more).

Workers report that employers with a higher percentage of low-wage workers were less likely to begin offering paid sick leave. This is a gap that needs address, as 95 percent of workers with the highest income levels have access to paid sick leave, but only 35 percent of workers in the lowest income levels do, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The annual KFF Employer Health Benefits Survey (EHBS) for 2021 was conducted between January and July of 2021, and included almost 1,700 randomly selected, non-federal public and private firms with three or more employees. Read the full report at ehbs.kff.org.