Profiling the US Sick Leave Landscape

29 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2016


This paper profiles the sick leave landscape in the US – the only industrialized country without universal access to paid sick leave or other forms of paid leave. We exploit the 2011 Leave Supplement of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), a representative and comprehensive database on sick leave in the US. The two binary outcome variables measure (i) access to paid sick leave and (ii) suppressed sick leave ("presenteeism"). Thirty-five percent of US full-time employees lack access to paid sick leave. Low-income employees, service sector employees, and those in poor health have the lowest coverage rates. We estimate that, each week, up to three million US employees suppress their need for sick leave and engage in presenteeism behavior. These are primarily women with children and low-wage sector jobs.

Keywords: sick leave, paid leave, medical leave, unpaid leave, low-income employees, gender inequality, presenteeism, US

JEL Classification: I12, I13, I18, J22, J28, J32

Suggested Citation

Susser, Philip and Ziebarth, Nicolas R., Profiling the US Sick Leave Landscape. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9709, Available at SSRN:

Philip Susser (Contact Author)

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Nicolas R. Ziebarth

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States


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