In private industry, 61 percent of workers have access to paid sick leave, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.
Proponents of paid leave say the figures show that 39 percent of Americans, more than 43 million people, still struggle without paid time off to recover from an illness or seek medical care.
Compared to the data collected in March 2014, the National Partnership for Women & Families said, access to paid sick days has increased slightly in the Northeast thanks to new local laws that have taken effect in places like New York City.
The left-leaning advocacy group said paid sick day laws will soon be in place in 24 jurisdictions across the country.
“Despite these victories and progress, the data released today make clear that millions of workers still do not have paid sick days,” the partnership said in a news release. “And workers who are paid low wages are the least likely to have access, even though they are often most in need of the economic stability paid sick days support.”
The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 78 percent of the lowest-paid workers — those making $9 per hour or less — can’t earn paid sick days.
The partnership is urging Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would require businesses with 15 or more employees to give their workers the ability to earn seven days of paid sick leave a year.