Rural employees lack sick leave, study finds


Everyone gets sick, but many rural employees are out of luck if they want to take a paid sick day.

How much sick leave do you offer your veterinary team members? According to new research from the University of New Hampshire, rural workers have less access to sick leave.

Researchers say paid sick days are a central component of job flexibility for rural and urban workers alike. Everyone gets sick, and the lack of paid sick days can place workers in a bind, especially given that workers who lack paid sick days are also more likely to lack other paid leave options, such as vacation days.

Researchers found that 44 percent of rural workers lack access to paid sick days. In contrast, 34 percent of suburban and 38 percent of urban workers have fewer than five paid sick days each year. A higher proportion of rural than urban working parents lacks access to at least five days off to care for a sick child without losing pay or having to use vacation time. The proportions without coverage drop somewhat when only full-time workers are included, but the general pattern of a rural disadvantage remains. Key findings show:

> A greater proportion of rural workers than urban workers lack access to at least five paid sick days per year.

> Among business-sector workers, rural employees are less likely to have paid sick days than their urban counterparts.

> Rural workers who agree that workers are less likely to advance if they use flexible workplace policies have less access to paid sick days than their urban and suburban counterparts.

Researchers say the lack of paid sick time disproportionately affects rural workers. The rural disadvantage is particularly pronounced among rural private-sector workers and part-time workers, but even rural full-time workers have less access to paid sick days than their urban counterparts. Increasing access to paid sick days for all workers could go a long way to help workers balance their work and family responsibilities.

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