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Paid sick leave was available to 79 percent of civilian workers in March 2021

October 12, 2021

Paid sick leave was available to 79 percent of civilian workers in March 2021. Among wage categories, access to paid sick leave ranged from 95 percent of workers whose average hourly wage placed them in the top 10 percent of civilian workers, to 35 percent of those in the bottom 10 percent of all civilian workers.  

Paid vacations were available to 77 percent of civilian workers. The range of paid vacation availability was 90 percent for workers in the third highest quarter of wage earners to 43 percent for workers in the bottom 10 percent.

In March 2021, 79 percent of civilian workers had paid holidays available to them. Workers in the third highest quarter of wage earners had the most availability at 91 percent, while workers in the bottom 10 percent had the least at 47 percent. 

Access to selected paid leave for civilian workers, by wage category, March 2021
Wage category Paid sick leave Paid vacation Paid holidays Paid family leave

All workers

79% 77% 79% 23%

Lowest 10 percent

35 43 47 7

Lowest 25 percent

53 55 60 12

Second 25 percent

83 83 86 22

Third 25 percent

90 90 91 26

Highest 25 percent

94 82 85 35

Highest 10 percent

95 83 86 40

Although paid family leave has become available to more workers over the past decade, it remains the least-available paid leave benefit over all wage categories.  Since 2011, the availability of paid family leave for the highest 10 percent of wage earners increased from 20 percent to 40 percent in 2021.  At the other end of the wage spectrum, the percentage of workers with available paid family leave increased from 4 percent in 2011 to 7 percent in 2021.  The disparity between the lowest and highest 10 percent of wage earners more than doubled over the last decade, from a difference of 16 percentage points in 2011 to 33 percentage points in the current year.

Access to paid family leave for civilian workers, by wage category, 2011 to 2021
Year Lowest 10 percent Lowest 25 percent Second 25 percent Third 25 percent Highest 25 percent Highest 10 percent

2011

4% 5% 11% 14% 19% 20%

2012

4 5 11 14 19 20

2013

4 5 11 15 20 22

2014

4 5 11 15 21 22

2015

4 5 11 15 21 24

2016

4 6 12 15 22 23

2017

4 6 13 18 25 26

2018

5 8 16 20 28 30

2019

6 9 18 22 30 34

2020

5 9 20 24 32 36

2021

7 12 22 26 35 40

These data are from the National Compensation Survey — Benefits program. For more information, see "Employee Benefits in the United States — March 2021" and the complete dataset (XLSX). We also have more charts on employee benefits. Civilian workers include all employees in private industry and those employed by state and local government.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Paid sick leave was available to 79 percent of civilian workers in March 2021 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/paid-sick-leave-was-available-to-79-percent-of-civilian-workers-in-march-2021.htm (visited October 19, 2021).

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