UVM College of Medicine PSD Study





Lessons Learned



The societal impact of Paid Sick Days (PSDs) has not been fully addressed in Vermont.  Evidence suggests that PSDs benefit the well being of the employee in addition to saving expenses for the employer and the state [1].  PSDs prevent the spread of diseases such as influenza and allow the ailing individual to receive proper medical attention [2].  Inadequate PSDs not only affect the individual who needs time away from work due to illness, but extend to their entire family.  Studies have documented the adverse effects from lack of PSDs on the ability for parents to care for their child [3]. 

The following facts are known:

  • 7 states require private sector employees to provide “flexible” PSDs for family members (Vermont does not) [3].

  • 66% of employers in Vermont do not provide PSDs for their employees [4].

  • Parents with PSDs or vacation are 5.2 times more likely to take time off from work to care for their sick child [2].

We hypothesize that elementary aged children of working parents, who have an insufficient amount of PSDs, are more likely to attend school with an acute illness and are more likely to receive inadequate health care (i.e., miss well child check ups).


Data was collected using a 20 question survey addressing demographics, PSD status, and the health status of Vermont children. 1135 surveys were distributed to 9 elementary schools throughout 4 counties (Table 1). Participating schools were based on geographic diversity as well as schools’ willingness to participate. Principals were requested to distribute surveys to each student in grades 2 through 4. The surveys included a note to the student's parents with a brief description of the project. Parents were requested to complete the survey and return it to school within 2 weeks. Anonymity was an important component of the project and sealable envelopes were provided with each survey. 15% of the surveys were verified for data entry error (error less than 1%.)









32.4% of families who had 3 or less PSDs and had no adult at home sent their child to school with what they judged to be significant illness. Reasons for sending an ill child to school included:

Unable to find child supervision (13.5%)

Could not afford to stay home (10.8%)

Work related reason (8.1%)


Families with 10 or more PSDs were usually (98.6% of the time) not confronted with obstacles to keeping their sick children out of school (Figure 1).


The likelihood that a child saw a doctor in the past year if their parents had more than 3 PSDs was at least 87%. Conversely, if the family rarely or never had a parent at home and had 3 or fewer PSDs, their child had a well child check up only 72% of the time (Figure 3).


Families with fewer PSDs (3 or less) indicated greater difficulty in taking children to physician visits than those that had more than 3 PSDs (34.4 to 13.1 %).


Lessons Learned

Respondents favorably received the survey.

Households with PSDs overwhelming indicated the benefit of PSDs regardless if an adult was home during the day (90.1 %).

Further work can be done to address the complexity of this important public health issue by:

Exploring health care provider perspectives

Assessing the public health impact of sick children sent to school due to lack of parental PSDs


1.Goetzel RZ, Long SR, Ozminkowski RJ, Hawkins K, Wang S, Lynch W. Health Absence, Disability, and Presenteeism Cost Estimates of Certain Physical and Mental Health Conditions Affecting U.S. Employers Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2004;46:398-412.

2.Principi N, Esposito S, Gasparini R, Marchisio P, Crovari P; Flu-Flu Study Group. Burden of influenza in healthy children and their households. Archives of Disease of Childhood 2006;91:797.

3.Clemans-Cope L, Perry CD, Kenney GM, Pelletier JE, Pantell MS. Access to and use of paid sick leave among low-income families with children. Pediatrics 2008;122:480-486.

4.Vermont Department of Labor Fringe Benefit report 2005, obtained from http://www.vtlmi.info/fringebene.pdf.



Get Involved


Other Resources

Paid Sick Day Coalition Members

Paid Sick Day FAQs


Campaign Updates


Home   |   Mission   |   FAQs & Facts   |   Campaigns   |   Contact Us   |   Site Map

Vermont Livable Wage Campaign
60 Lake Street, Burlington, VT 05401
802.863.2345 x8 livablewage@pjcvt.org
© 2007 Vermont Livable Wage Campaign

Designed by Kristance Harlow