Did Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave Ameliorate the Health and Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic?
This study will examine whether state-mandated paid sick leave and state-mandated paid family and medical leave has helped control the early spread of COVID-19 and ameliorated the economic distress caused by the pandemic. In particular, the research team will explore whether people in states with guaranteed paid sick leave fared better in the pandemic and were better able to adopt social distancing measures compared to those in states without such a guarantee. State administrative data show that, early in the pandemic, there was a surge of initial claims in some states with their own paid leave systems—well before the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law. The research team will explore whether this surge in leave-taking is reflected in measures of social distancing or staying at home as captured by cell-phone location data, and whether that is reflected in the COVID-19 incidence data. Finally, the authors are also interested in whether there are differences across states with and without paid leave systems in reported measures of illness, leave-taking, and economic and psychological distress associated with the pandemic.