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AMA Recognizes Public-health Benefits of Paid Sick Leave

CHICAGO — The American Medical Assoc. (AMA) adopted new policy last week recognizing the public-health benefits of paid sick leave and other discretionary time off. Citing a growing body of evidence that lack of access to paid sick leave results in the spread of infectious diseases, as well as delayed screenings, diagnoses, and treatment, the new AMA policies support paid sick leave, as well as unpaid sick leave, for employees to care for themselves or a family member.

“With both dual-earner and single-parent households on the rise in the United States, it is increasingly challenging for workers to juggle family and work,” said former AMA board chair Dr. Barbara McAneny. “Workers without paid sick days are more likely to work sick and are more likely to delay needed medical care, which can lead to prolonged illness and worsen otherwise minor health issues. Lack of paid leave also has a ripple effect across a worker’s family. Paid sick leave has been shown to aid children’s health, shorten hospital stays, and reduce the risk of disease transmission by allowing parents to stay home with sick children. Paid sick leave keeps our homes, offices, and communities healthier while ensuring the family’s economic security.”

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a federal family-leave law that guarantees workers may receive pay while taking time to care for themselves or their family. Although the Family and Medical Leave Act mandates that companies provide leave, the law does not require that it be paid.

The AMA also reaffirmed existing policy supporting voluntary leave policies that provide employees with job security and the continued availability of health-plan benefits in the event that leave becomes necessary due to medical conditions.

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