News Release

New Analysis Examines Paid Time Off for Working Mothers when Their Children are Sick

For many women, missing work when their children have a cold or upset stomach takes a financial toll on family income.

A new data note from the Kaiser Family Foundation reports on the number of working mothers who must take unpaid time off when their children are sick and discusses state and national policies addressing the issue.

Balancing on Shaky Ground: Women, Work and Family Health recounts findings from a recent national Kaiser survey, including:

  • Four in ten working mothers (39 percent) report that they must take time off and stay home when their children are sick, over ten times the share of men (3 percent).
  • Among mothers with no alternative to missing work when a child is sick, 60 percent say they aren’t paid for the time off, up from 45 percent in 2004.
  • Working mothers with lower incomes are particularly affected. More than half report they must miss work to care for sick kids at home, while 36 percent say their jobs offer paid sick leave and 43 percent say they get paid vacation days.

For more information about women’s health policy, visit

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.