March 13, 2014

Americans Overwhelmingly Support New Mandatory Sick Leave Laws, Says Survey

EAGAN, Minn. – An overwhelming majority of Americans support a growing number of laws that provide mandatory paid sick leave for workers. That’s according to a new survey from, the most popular legal information website.

In April, New York City will become the latest city to implement mandatory sick leave. Businesses with 20 or more employees will be required to provide five paid days off each year for employees who are ill or caring for a sick family member. Smaller businesses will have to provide five unpaid sick days.

In recent years, several cities and states have adopted similar laws. Advocates say the measures improve public health by keeping ill workers and schoolchildren at home, and protect workers from being fired for taking time off while sick. However, several states have passed laws that prohibit local sick leave ordinances, arguing that such laws raise costs and interfere with business decisions.

Seventy-one percent of people surveyed by say they support mandatory sick leave laws. Only 10 percent of Americans are opposed. Nineteen percent were unsure or had no opinion.

San Francisco was the first city to implement a mandatory sick leave ordinance, which went into effect in 2007. Connecticut was the first state to pass a mandatory sick leave law, which took effect January 1, 2012. Seattle, Portland and the District of Columbia have approved similar measures, and more than 20 other cities and states are considering it. Meanwhile, Kansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arizona have banned cities from requiring private employers to provide mandatory sick leave.

“The issue of mandatory sick leave is sparking considerable debate in cities and states across the country,” said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney-editor at “It’s important for both employers and employees to know which current state laws and city ordinances apply to them, as the legislative landscape is rapidly evolving. Sick leave, which is time off with or without pay while the worker is sick or caring for an ill family member, is different from the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other state laws which provide for unpaid, job-protected leave for personal or family matters such as illness, pregnancy, or adoption.

”Employees should check with their human resources department to learn more,” continued Rahlfs, “as well as free online resources such as’s Employment Law Center (”

The FindLaw survey was conducted using a demographically balanced survey of 1000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.

Note to editors: Full survey results and analysis are available upon request.


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