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Public health study shows Asian, Latine non-citizens are less likely to take paid leave

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The study finds that fear of job loss discourages undocumented workers from paid leave and urges government collaboration with immigrant-serving organizations.


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AUGUST 16, 2023

A campus public health study shows Asian and Latine non-citizens are less likely to take paid leave than U.S.-born white workers.

According to one of the study’s contributors, Alein Y. Haro-Ramos, a UC President’s postdoctoral fellow at UC Irvine and UC Berkeley Health Policy Ph.D. alumna, U.S. citizens are more predisposed to take paid leave more frequently than non-citizens across all races except white.

The study points out that reasons for non-citizens’ unmet paid leave include “fear of job loss, fear of negative impacts on job advancement, employers denying it, lack of information or knowledge regarding the process or ineligibility.”

Haro-Ramos said in an email that she used the California Health Interview Survey, or CHIS, in the study, which itself took around three months.

The sample used was collected from the CHIS between March and October 2021, and the paper indicated that 12,485 responses were used in its analysis.

“I used weighted multivariable logistic regressions, which are a statistical analysis that allows us to account for other potential factors that may influence who experiences unmet needed paid leave so that we can have a “cleaner” look at the relationship between race, ethnicity, citizenship and unmet paid leave, ” Haro-Ramos said in the email.

She noted that her interest in the health and well-being of immigrants inspired the study, and her particular research focus is the effect of structural determinants, such as work and employment, on the health of minorities.

The COVID-19 pandemic strengthened the importance of paid leave, which allows for preventive healthcare and treatment for various health conditions and establishes an “economic safety net” for emergency health conditions, Haro-Ramos stated.

“During the pandemic, undocumented immigrants were a critical subgroup of essential workers who were not eligible for unemployment benefits like long-term wage replacement,” Haro-Ramos said in the email. “This meant that undocumented immigrants had to keep showing up to work, even if they got sick, to make ends meet.”

Haro-Ramos noted that according to California state law, workers who work more than 30 days a year must be given at least three paid sick days regardless of their citizenship status.

The city of Berkeley, an example of a city that has surpassed this baseline, needs more collaboration with community organizations such as the Berkeley Multicultural Institute that serve immigrants, Haro-Ramos stated.

“The disparities in unmet paid leave that we find in the study reflect the multiple ways that structural racism impacts marginalized communities in their daily lives,” Haro-Ramos said. “For this reason, policies that promote health equity across systems, including work, are critical.”

Contact Jingxing Wang at 


AUGUST 16, 2023