Milwaukee Paid Sick Days

At a Glance:

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Date: 2008

Vital Condition: Meaningful Work and Wealth

Determinants of Health: employment, meaningful work and wealth, employment

Research Methods: Qualitative research

Community Types: Various

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Human Impact Partners conducted a rapid HIA of a proposed ordinance in Milwaukee that would allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of paid work, up to 72 hours of leave in companies with more than 10 employees and 40 hours in firms with fewer than 10 employees.

The HIA found that only 15 percent of U.S. workers in food preparation and services industries have paid sick leave and that 93 percent of outbreak-related foodborne illness in Wisconsin between 2003 and 2007 occurred in places where food was prepared or served by workers, including restaurants, catered events, schools, recreational facilities, prisons, and nursing homes. In Milwaukee County, 302 cases of outbreak-related foodborne illnesses occurred during this period and 47 percent of Milwaukee’s private sector workforce lacks paid sick leave. Focus group participants identified income loss and the threat of job loss as the primary reasons for continuing to work through a personal or family member illness.

The HIA concluded that the health of all Milwaukeeans would benefit if the ordinance passed and workers earned paid leave to use for a personal illness or to care for a family member.


The ordinance passed with almost 70 percent of the vote.

This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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