A West Virginia family lost their income after their patriarch got unpaid leave after being removed from work to enroll in a two-week treatment program.
Edmund Vance came back to difficult financial struggles after the program, after leaving his work in the mines. He was instead subjected to even less income by working in a landscaping firm.
“Had he been able to go to treatment on paid leave and come back with that job security, regardless of it being in the coal mines, that’s just extra stability that people in recovery need,” Edmund’s wife, Joanna, said.
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The Vances are one of roughly 32 million Americans without access to paid leave.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that paid sick leave was available to 77 percent of private industry workers in March 2021. Among major occupation groups, access to paid sick leave ranged from 59 percent of workers in service occupations to 93 percent in management, professional, and related occupations.
Twenty-three percent of private industry workers had access to paid family leave. These benefits were available to 12 percent of workers in the lowest 25th percent wage category and 37 percent of workers in the highest 25th percent wage category.
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Forty-five percent of private industry workers had access to plans that provide a single amount of time off for workers to use for multiple purposes, such as vacation, illness, or personal leave, referred to as consolidated leave plans.
Twenty-six percent of union workers and 46 percent of nonunion workers had access to consolidated leave plans. Paid sick leave was available to 92 percent of state and local government workers.
Eighty-nine percent of workers with access to paid sick leave earned or accrued a fixed number of sick leave days per year, and ranged from 59 percent of workers in hospitals to 94 percent of workers in elementary and secondary schools. Ten percent had access to sick leave as part of a consolidated leave plan.
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Paid vacations were available to 77 percent of civilian workers. On average, 13 paid vacation days were available annually to state and local government workers after 1 year of service and 22 days were available to workers after 20 years of service.
At establishments with less than 100 employees, 22 paid vacation days were available to state and local government workers after 20 years of service, while 17 days were available to private industry workers after 20 years of service.
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“I’m really happy with where we are now with our finances, with our work, and especially with our recoveries. But it took a long time,” JoAnna said, reflecting on their present situation.
However, she admits that the two weeks of paid leave would have affected her last four years.
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