Numerous studies have shown that 12-hour shifts, rotating shifts, and unpredictable work schedules are associated with greater risk of chronic health conditions including mental illness, cardiovascular disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, and obesity. Although large manufacturing companies recognize the risks, they cite several arguments in favor of maintaining them, including the 24/7 production schedule, and in some cases, employee preferences for long shifts to maximize days off and pay.
Employment and Workplace
To date, sick pay mandates have been implemented in seven states and dozens of cities across the U.S. Nicolas R. Ziebarth of Cornell University and colleague Stefan Pichler of ETH Zurich assess the causal labor market effects of nine city-level and four state-level pay mandates.
While multiple studies show a positive association between employment status and improved physical and mental health, it is unclear whether this relationship is causal. Building on work in Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, the research team will analyze the effects of Medicaid work requirements on coverage rates, access to care, and employment among low-income adults.
Since 2004, California’s state disability insurance program has provided six weeks of parental leave at 55 percent pay (in addition to typically 6-8 weeks of postpartum disability leave for biological mothers, also at 55 percent pay). However, many parents—especially those of lower-income—cannot afford to take this bonding leave at only partial pay. San Francisco’s new Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO) addresses this issue by requiring San Francisco employers to supplement up to 100% pay for six weeks of parental bonding leave.
Many hourly workers, especially in the retail sector, contend with unstable and unpredictable work schedules in which the number of hours, the days of the week, and the times of day that they work vary substantially from week to week. This chronic instability is likely to negatively affect workers and could also have spillover effects for children.
While there is an extensive and growing research literature on the benefits of paid parental leave, few studies have examined the impacts of paid family leave on caring for elderly family members. Yet families that take advantage of these policies may actually be helping to lower state costs in other areas. Arora and Wolf (2018) estimate that paid family leave reduced elderly nursing home utilization by 11 percent in California relative to an empirically matched group of control states.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s (IWPR) simulation model estimates the costs and benefits of paid leave for six common leave types, using data largely derived from the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2012 Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Survey. The types include 1) own serious medical condition; 2) maternity and childbirth; 3) new child care following birth, adoption, or foster placement; 4) care for spouse; 5) care for children; and 6) care for parents.
Income is considered one of the key underlying social determinants of health. However, there has been relatively limited research on the health effects of policies designed to increase income for vulnerable families.