UVM College of Medicine PSD Study
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 . PSDs prevent the spread of diseases
such as influenza and allow the ailing individual to receive proper
medical attention . 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
following facts are known:
states require private sector employees to provide “flexible” PSDs
for family members (Vermont does not) .
of employers in Vermont do not provide PSDs for their employees
with PSDs or vacation are 5.2 times more likely to take time off
from work to care for their sick child .
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).
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%.)
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:
to find child supervision (13.5%)
not afford to stay home (10.8%)
related reason (8.1%)
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
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).
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 %).
favorably received the survey.
with PSDs overwhelming indicated the benefit of PSDs regardless if an
adult was home during the day (90.1 %).
work can be done to address the complexity of this important public
health issue by:
health care provider perspectives
the public health impact of sick children sent to school due to lack
of parental PSDs
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.
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.
L, Perry CD, Kenney GM, Pelletier JE, Pantell MS. Access to and use of
paid sick leave among low-income families with children. Pediatrics
Department of Labor Fringe Benefit report 2005, obtained from http://www.vtlmi.info/fringebene.pdf.
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