Do flex hours, sick leave offerings impact retirement savings?

Flexible working hours, paid sick leave and vacation could have a positive correlation with retirement savings levels, according to a new study.

The research, led by Patricia Ann Stoddard Dare, a professor at Cleveland State University, studied 994 male U.S. workers aged 47 to 55. It found employees who are offered these time-related benefits have dramatically higher retirement savings compared to those without them.

Specifically, workers with flexible working time have 24.8 per cent higher retirement savings and those with paid sick leave have 29.6 per cent higher savings than those who don’t have access to these options. Indeed, the more sick leave, the higher the retirement savings. It also found study participants with just one to five vacation days available to them annually saw significant lags in their retirement savings.

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Looking at whether employees have access to sick days, the study found the effects on participants’ physical health are both logical and numerous, but it also noted there’s a cascading impact on their finances when workers can’t take time off to deal with health issues.

For example, U.S. workers who can’t take a day off to take advantage of preventative medical care, such as a vaccination or screening test, are more likely to take an expensive trip to the emergency room. Indeed, employees without sick days have higher medical bills, more severe financial strain and psychological distress, noted the study. And they’re also less likely to be able to maintain employment.

“Managing the competing demands of work, health and family life is a challenge for most Americans,” the paper noted. “It is, thus, vital to design employment benefits packages that allow workers to remain in the labor force and benefit from long-term, continuous retirement savings, hopefully resulting in financial security during the golden years of life.”

Read: Canadian boomers concerned about retirement savings: survey