The Anatomy of U.S. Sick Leave Schemes: Evidence from Public School Teachers
Christopher Cronin (),
Matthew Harris () and
Nicolas Ziebarth ()
No 29956, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc
This paper studies how U.S. employees use paid sick leave. The most common U.S. sick-leave schemes operate as individualized credit accounts---paid leave is earned over time and unused leave accumulates, producing an employee-specific "leave balance." We construct a unique administrative dataset containing the daily balance information and leave behavior of 982 public school teachers from 2010 to 2018. We have three main findings: First, we provide evidence of judicious sick-leave use---namely, teachers use more sick leave during higher flu activity---but no evidence of inappropriate use for the purposes of leisure. Second, we find that leave use is increasing in the leave balance with an average balance-use elasticity of 0.45. This relationship is strongest at the very bottom of the balance distribution. Third, we find that a higher leave balance reduces the likelihood that a teacher works sick ("presenteeism"), especially during flu season. Taken together, these results suggest that a simple alteration to the current sick-leave scheme could reduce the likelihood of presenteeism, thereby lowering infection risk in schools, with few adverse consequences.
JEL-codes: I12 I13 I18 J22 J28 J32 J38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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