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Wage continuation during sickness: Observations on paid sick leave provisions in times of crises

(1041 Kb)
Scheil-Adlung, X.; Sandner, L.

Working paper
social protection policy

Summary (English)

Paid sick leave plays a crucial role especially in times of crises where many workers fear dismissal and discrimination when reporting sick. In fact, the absence of paid sick days forces ill workers to decide between caring for their health or losing jobs and income, choosing between deteriorating health and risking to impoverish themselves and often their families. Without social health protection that includes paid sick leave many people working in the formal or informal economy and living in developed or developing countries cannot afford to choose.

Limited evidence is available for governments, employers and workers’ unions on the consequences of gaps in providing for paid sick leave and costs of failing to address the needs of the vulnerable. Developing reliable internationally comparable data is constrained by the complex interplay of health and socio-economic conditions including regulations, labour market structure and vulnerability when taking up paid sick leave. Against this background, this paper seeks to focus on the existing national and international evidence and provides some insights into the concepts, patterns and affordability of paid sick leave in countries throughout the world. Further, it is argued that providing for sick leave and related income replacement is a key component of decent work and should be considered within national social protection floors.


11.06.2010 - Veronika Wodsak