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Int J Health Serv. 2010;40(1):1-22.

Ensuring a healthy and productive workforce: comparing the generosity of paid sick day and sick leave policies in 22 countries.

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  • 1Institute for Health and Social Policy, McGill University, Montreal.


National paid sick day and paid sick leave policies are compared in 22 countries ranked highly in terms of economic and human development. The authors calculate the financial support available to workers facing two different kinds of health problems: a case of the flu that requires missing 5 days of work, and a cancer treatment that requires 50 days of absence. Only 3 countries--the United States, Canada, and Japan--have no national policy requiring employers to provide paid sick days for workers who need to miss 5 days of work to recover from the flu. Eleven countries guarantee workers earning the national median wage full pay for all 5 days. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, the full-time equivalent benefits are more generous for low-wage workers than for workers earning the national median. The United States is the only country that does not provide paid sick leave for a worker undergoing a 50-day cancer treatment. Luxembourg and Norway provide 50 full-time equivalent working days of leave, while New Zealand provides the least, at 5 days. In 6 countries, paid sick leave benefits are more generous for low-wage workers than for median-wage workers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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