Insult to Injury: U.S. Workers Without Paid Sick Leave Suffer from Mental Distress

Only seven states in the United States have mandatory paid sick leave laws; yet, fifteen states have passed preemptive legislation prohibiting localities from passing sick leave. Despite this resistance, paid sick leave is starting to gain momentum as a social justice issue with important implications for health and wellness. But what are the implications for the mental well-being of Americans without paid sick leave? Little was known about their relationship until now.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University and Cleveland State University are the first to explore the link between psychological distress and paid sick leave among U.S. workers ages 18-64. Results of their study, published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, illuminate the effects of exacerbated stress on Americans without paid sick leave who are unable to care for themselves or their loved ones without fear of losing wages or their jobs.

The researchers found that workers without paid sick leave benefits reported a statistically significant higher level of psychological distress. They also are 1.45 times more likely to report that their distress symptoms interfere “a lot” with their daily life and activities compared to workers with paid sick leave. Those most vulnerable: young, Hispanic, low-income and poorly educated populations.

“Given the disproportionate access to paid sick leave based on race, ethnicity and income status, coupled with its relationship to health and mental health, paid sick leave must be viewed as a health disparity as well as a social justice issue,” said LeaAnne DeRigne, Ph.D., co-author of the study and an associate professor in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry. “Even modest increases in psychological distress are noteworthy for both researchers and policy makers since we know that even small increases in stress can impact health.”

The study included 17,897 respondents from the National Health Interview Survey(NHIS), administered by the U.S. government since 1957 to examine a nationally representative sample of U.S. households about health and sociodemographic variables.

“For many Americans, daily life itself can be a source of stress as they struggle to manage numerous responsibilities including health related issues,” said Patricia Stoddard-Dare, Ph.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of social work at Cleveland State University. “Making matters worse, for those who lack paid sick leave, a day away from work can mean lost wages or even fear of losing one’s job. These stressors combined with other sources of stress have the potential to interfere with workplace performance and impact overall mental health.”

The researchers used the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6), considered the gold standard for assessing psychological distress in population-based samples in the U.S. and internationally. With a theoretical range of 0 to 24, higher scores on the K6 represent increased psychological distress and scores above 13 are correlated with having a mental disorder of some type.

Results from the study showed that those with paid sick leave had a lower mean distress score compared to those without paid sick leave, who had significantly higher K6 scores, indicating a higher level of psychological distress. Only 1.4 percent of those with paid sick leave had a K6 score above 12 compared to 3.1 percent of the respondents without paid sick leave.

The most significant control variables indicated an increase in the expected psychological distress score among those who were younger, female, in fair or poor personal health, had at least one chronic health condition, were current smokers or did not average the recommended range of seven to nine hours of sleep per day.

Approximately 40 percent of respondents in the NHIS sample did not have paid sick leave; approximately half of the respondents were female; more than half were married or cohabitating; three-quarters indicated that their highest level of education included at least some college; and 62 percent were non-Hispanic white. The mean age was 41.2 years. Most of the respondents (79.1 percent) worked full-time and 82.7 percent had health insurance coverage. Respondents were in families with a mean size of 2.6 persons and 39.3 percent reported having children in the family. Approximately 32 percent had an annual family income of $35,000 to $50,000, and more than one quarter were below the poverty threshold.

DeRigne and Stoddard-Dare caution that even though there is concern about the potential burden on employers if paid sick leave laws are passed, it is important to be mindful of the overall situation regarding productivity loss and workplace costs associated with mental health symptoms and psychological concerns among U.S. workers. Furthermore, the personal health care consequences of delaying or forgoing needed medical care can lead to more complicated and expensive health conditions. U.S. workers with paid sick leave are more likely to take time off work and self-quarantine when necessary, without the worries of losing their job or income while also not spreading illness to others.

“Results from our research will help employers as they think about strategies to reduce psychological stress in their employees such as implementing or expanding access to paid sick days,” said Stoddard-Dare. “Clinicians also can use these findings to help their patients and clients as can legislators who are actively evaluating the value of mandating paid sick leave.”

National Association of Social Workers Offering Third Virtual Career Fair

ol-career-fair

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is hosting a 2017 Virtual Career Fair on February 9 from noon to 4 p.m. (ET) that will give employers access to a pool of talented social work professionals around the nation who are ready to take positions in health care, mental health care, the military, schools and other sectors.

This will be the third time NASW has hosted a Virtual Career Fair. Demand for the event from both employers and potential employees has been high.

“Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States and the need for social workers is acute in some areas,” said NASW Director of Professional and Workforce Development Raffaele Vittelli. “This year’s Virtual Career Fair offers the use of technology to provide employers more ease and flexibility in connecting to the top talent within NASW and the social work profession.”

As an attendee, you have the ability to explore employer information and opportunities. Choose which employers you want to network and interview with and then engage in one-on-one text-based conversations or Skype video chats directly with a recruiter at those organizations. You can share your background, experience, resume and ask questions. Maximize your time in the event by getting in line to chat with representatives from more than one company at a time. Click Here for an Instructional PDF on how to use the Skype Integration with the Virtual Career Fair platform.

“Employers can use the Virtual Career Fair to discuss career growth at their organizations, quickly fill open positions, or enhance their brand by giving candidates access to their company,” Vittelli said.

Depending upon the booth level, employers can receive up to five recruiter positions. Recruiters can connect directly to job seekers through one-on-one instant messaging and video chats that employers can use to discuss career opportunities, determine if the candidate is a good match for the positions, and accept applications from job seekers.

Employers who register to take part in the Virtual Career Fair will receive a fully customized employer booth complete with their logo, images, open positions, videos and other information as well as job postings packages and discounts in the NASW JobLink. Job seekers can register for free and to have access to employers across the nation.

National Association of Social Workers Offering Virtual Career Fair

naswsocialjobs

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is hosting a 2016 Virtual Career Fair on February 9 from noon to 4 p.m. that will give employers access to a pool of talented social work professionals who are ready to take positions in health care, mental health care, the military, schools and other sectors. If you are a job seeker, you can register here.

“Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States and the need for social workers is acute in some areas,” said NASW Director of Professional and Workforce Development Raffaele Vittelli. “NASW decided to partner with Brazen Connect to offer virtual career fairs in order to use technology to give employers more ease and flexibility in connecting to the top talent within NASW and the social work profession.”

This is a unique opportunity to recruit members of our organization all from the comfort of your home or office.

How it Works:

At the event, you will receive a fully customized employer booth, complete with your logo, images, open positions, videos and other information to make your career opportunities stand out!

During the live event, you will receive three recruiter seats, where recruiters will connect directly with job seekers in one-on-one chats to discuss career opportunities and determine if the candidate could be a good match for any openings. All job seeker participants in the event will be part of a diverse pool of talented professionals.

Who should attend the event?

  • Employers seeking to chat one-on-one directly and candidly about your career opportunities
  • Employers seeking to fill their pipeline and hire the top talent
  • Employers wishing to enhance their brand by giving candidates access to their company

Employers can go to this link for registration information. Each employer will get three recruiter seats, and recruiters can connect directly to job seekers through one-on-one instant messaging chats and video chats via Skype that employers can use to discuss career opportunities and determine if the candidate is a good match for the positions.

“Employers can use the Virtual Career Fair to discuss career growth at their organizations, quickly fill open positions, or enhance their brand by giving candidates access to their company,” Vittelli said.

The NASW Virtual Career Fair will connect your company with top talent from our vast community of professionals, representing all sectors around the country. The online format provides an easy, effective way to discover top talent from our community. If you value what this diverse community brings to the workforce, this is an event you’ll want to attend!

Exit mobile version