Thinking about calling sick to your job. If you’re a woman of color, think again- it could cost you your job.

This is according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) that released its report showing national estimates of access to paid sick days across lines of race/ethnicity and gender. IWPR used using data from private sector employees who gave their responses as part of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

The IWPR found that compared to white women, that access to paid sick days is significantly rarer among Hispanics and blacks. Both Asian-Americans and white women had higher over rates of access (67 and 60 percent respectively), compared to 56 percent of Blacks and 42 percent of Hispanics women.  The report found that:

“For many taking a day off to attend to a sick child could mean losing their job.”

C. Nicole Mason, Executive Director of the Women of Color Policy Network and Research Assistant Professor at New York University says that the results show a disparity for women of color that needs to be addressed through legislation:

“Access to paid sick days is a racial justice issue. The economic security of low-income families and communities depends on the passage of state and federal policies that ensure work life balance.”

IWPR points out that in some fields sick days are not encouraged, particularly in low-skill or hospitality jobs. The center found that as few as 23 percent of food service workers and 38 percent of personal care workers (who work directly with the elderly or disabled) have access to paid sick days, regardless of their race or gender.

Speaking on the study, Barbara Gault, Executive Director and Vice President of IWPR said:

“Expanding access to paid sick days is in the interests of economic equality and public health. Improved access is also needed to counter economic disadvantage in the black and Hispanic communities.”

The new report raises questions on why Black and Latino women are not able to take off the same number of sick days as their White and Asian counterparts. Are we not negotiating the number we deserve before starting a new job? Are we personally unclear on what that number should be? Or is the number given to us usually seem non negotiable? Is it a make or break factor for the job?

Tell us what you think Clutchettes: are women of color given less access to sick days? Are we penalized more for taking time off or is it more complicated than that? Share you thoughts!

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  • MP

    You answered your own question in the article:

    “IWPR points out that in some fields sick days are not encouraged, particularly in low-skill or hospitality jobs. The center found that as few as 23 percent of food service workers and 38 percent of personal care workers (who work directly with the elderly or disabled) have access to paid sick days, regardless of their race or gender.”

    If we are over-represented in these jobs, then by default we as a whole have less access to sick days. It goes back to fundamental social issues that explain why we are over-represented in these jobs in the first place.

  • Bren

    I know a woman who hasn’t taken a sick day or vacation days, although she really needs it, because they are unpaid.