Workers Without Paid Sick Leave Endure Financial Worries


Many Americans, even middle-class earners, are living paycheck-to-paycheck. While worrying about making ends meet is a common concern for many Americans, new research shows that it is even more troublesome for working adults without paid sick leave.

A study by researchers at Florida Atlantic University and Cleveland State University, published in the Journal of Social Service Research is the first to investigate the relationship between paid sick leave and financial worry. Even when controlling for education, race, sex, marital status, employment and insurance, the researchers have shown a positive association between not having paid sick leave and reporting financial worry.

Results show that Americans without paid sick leave were more likely to worry about both short-term financial issues like housing expenses, as well as long-term financial issues such as retirement or future bills for an illness or accident. The highest odds of reporting worry were associated with normal monthly bills. Indeed, respondents were 1.59 times more likely to report being “very worried” about these bills. Similarly, respondents who lack paid sick leave were 1.55 times more likely to report being “very worried” about paying rent, mortgage or other housing costs compared to workers with paid sick leave.

Concern about making the minimum payment on credit cards was statistically significant, too. The average U.S. household credit card debt topped $16,000 in 2017. Conversely, workers with paid sick leave were less likely to report worrying about common financial obligations.

“For Americans who are working without paid sick leave, a day lost can translate into lost wages or even place their employment in jeopardy. This contributes to the shaky financial situation in which many families already find themselves,” said LeaAnne DeRigne, Ph.D., senior author and an associate professor of FAU’s Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work within the College for Design and Social Inquiry. “Given worry’s known relationship to health, mental health, and employment productivity, findings from our latest study are really disconcerting.”

For the study, the researchers used the National Health Interview Survey 2015 data release and sampled 17,897 working adults between the ages of 18 and 64 in the U.S. in current paid employment. More than 40 percent of the sample size did not have paid sick leave, more than half were female, more than half were married, nearly three-quarters had some college education; and the majority (62 percent) were non-Hispanic white. The average age was 41.2 years, the mean family size was 2.6 persons; and more than 79 percent worked full-time.

Paid sick leave allows employees to balance work and family responsibilities while also managing their own health and that of their family members. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 68 percent of Americans and only 31 percent of part-time workers have access to paid sick days. Hispanic workers have the lowest access rates at only 45 percent. Only the U.S. and Japan do not mandate a national sick leave benefit.

“The costs of providing sick leave benefits may be lower than employers think when taking into account the costs of workers coming to work when they are sick or performing sub-optimally,” said Patricia Stoddard Dare, Ph.D., co-author and a professor in the School of Social Work at Cleveland State University. “Both employers and policy makers should consider the potential cost savings associated with offering a few guaranteed paid sick days.”

In their prior research, DeRigne and Stoddard-Dare showed that workers without paid sick leave benefits also reported a statistically significant higher level of psychological distress. They were 1.45 times more likely to report that their distress symptoms interfered “a lot” with their daily life and activities compared to workers with paid sick leave. Those most vulnerable: young, Hispanic, low-income and poorly educated populations. Their other research findings also showed that working adults without paid sick leave were three times more likely to have incomes below the poverty line and were more likely to experience food insecurity and require welfare services.

With this latest study, DeRigne and Stoddard-Dare have identified another vulnerability among these workers – an increased risk of financial worry. The researchers stress that mandating paid sick leave benefits may provide an additional safety net to support working families, especially low-income households for which a day of lost wages can be very difficult to absorb.

“The risk and fear of losing one’s job due to illness related absences can lead to people working while sick, which has serious public health implications especially as we are entering peak flu season,” said DeRigne. “Our research is providing further evidence of the importance of paid sick leave benefits to the economic health of families and in general to society.”

Co-authors of the study are Cyleste Collins, Ph.D., Linda M. Quinn, Ph.D., and Kimberly Fuller, Ph.D. from Cleveland State University.

Our Reflections on the Shooting Tragedy in Pittsburgh, PA

On behalf of the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, we express our heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the family and friends of the 11 members of Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) Synagogue who were tragically killed while praying and studying Torah on the Sabbath. We know the impact of this anti-Semitic attack goes well beyond Tree of Life, affecting individuals across the country, abroad and Jewish communities.

As we reflect on this act of violence—as well as recent bomb threats, murders motivated by racism and homophobia, and other acts of hate—we may feel sad and disillusioned. In these challenging times, it is and more important than ever to maintain our resolve to make things better, to help heal the world. Despite increased incidents of anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry, we also see acts of bravery, compassion, altruism and hope. The responses of law enforcement personnel and medical professionals in Pittsburgh were truly heroic. The outpouring of love and support from people of many different faiths, beliefs, and cultures has shown that we can come together and begin to heal.

As we move forward, each of us can make a difference. We can reach out to those of different backgrounds and beliefs, building bridges, opening communication, and learning about each other. We can challenge bigotry by promoting greater understanding, respect and acceptance. We can advocate for legal and social policy reforms to foster safety and security for all. We can enhance social work and mental health services to help identify people at risk and offer early intervention and support. We can also become more involved politically to ensure that our leaders focus on issues of safety, security, equality, and acceptance. Even small acts of social action, advocacy, kindness, and compassion may have significant effects.

“Shalom” (peace) is not just a greeting or a prayer; it is an action that we must take.

Explore FAU 2018 – College Expedition

More than 100 prospective students and family members visited the College for Design and Social Inquiry during the “College Expedition” portion of Explore FAU 2018.  It was a great opportunity for Owl hopefuls to visit the colleges and departments they’re most interested in and speak with faculty and existing students about what it would be like to be a student in their respective degree programs.

Arthritis Study Wins “Best Paper” from American Journal of Public Health

JuYoung Park, Associate Professor in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, has won a highly-coveted “Best Paper of the Year” Editor’s Choice Award from the American Journal of Public Health for her co-authored study “Various Types of Arthritis in the United States: Prevalence and Age-Related Trends from 1999 to 2014”.

“Given the health and economic burden of arthritis, understanding prevalence trends is of significant public health interest,” Park said. “Because of these burdens, developing cost-saving and effective treatments are necessary to minimize arthritis symptoms, maximize functional capacity, reduce disability and, moreover, improve the quality of life for the more than 350 million people worldwide who are affected by arthritis.”

Dr. Park has been invited to attend the 2018 APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego to accept her award at the Public Health Awards Reception and Ceremony. The AJPH will also run a feature column on the winning publications in their December 2018 issue.

Spring 2018 Master of Social Work Induction

Click below to view the photo album from the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work Spring 2018 MSW Induction Ceremony.

VIDEO: About the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work

School of Social Work

The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work at Florida Atlantic University is located in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida. Watch the video below to see what sets us apart – from our ethnically and culturally-diverse student population, small class sizes, strong student-professor relationships, a completely face-to-face curriculum, countless community-based research opportunities, and so much more.



Start your future at FAU. Apply today.

“Here’s to the Healers”: Reflections from Former Delray Beach Mayor

Former Mayor of Delray Beach, FL, Jeff Perlman, recently reflected on his experience attending the Spring 2018 Induction Ceremony for the FAU Phyllis & Harvey Sandler School of Social Work in an article for

He titled the article “Here’s to the Healers”, and we invite you to read an excerpt below:


“… I was especially struck by the pictures of the graduates flashed across screens with their career intentions below their smiling faces.

They were going to devote their lives to child welfare, abuse, adoption, addiction, victim’s rights, mental health, education—social work. Is there anything more valuable than the healing of society?

And I found myself growing emotional as I saw their faces and listened to the speakers who are really the best that our society has to offer.

They care. They love. They are passionate, committed and dedicated to working with those who need help, nurturing and healing.

The specter of Parkland hung heavy in the room. It’s fresh. It’s local.

We live in a violent and volatile society, but while that level of mental illness is at the top end of what can and does go wrong all too often these days, it’s also the day to day issues that calls for an army of healers.

And I thought, who tends to the families of the two young Delray Beach men who were killed in separate scooter and dirt bike accidents in the past two weeks? Who is there to help the children left alone after a murder suicide recently in our community? The tragedies—some publicized, many hidden—are an everyday occurrence in every community in America.

And it’s not just tragedies, accidents, violence, crime, abuse, addiction etc., that afflicts us—it’s how we relate to each other as people. The vitriol on social media, cable TV, in Congress, across borders, religions, political persuasions and on and on that erodes our social fabric and compels us to wonder where the healers are.

And I thought, here they are.

Here are the people who will make a difference in our world. They won’t get rich doing so, at least in the conventional sense, but they will surely enrich our world.

As Dr. Michelle Hawkins, Vice Provost of FAU reminded the MSW graduates: we have to teach the world to be kinder. We don’t have to be mean spirited, we can be kind-spirited.



Read the full article here

Chair Yoga Found to Significantly Reduce Osteoarthritis Pain

Dr. Juyoung Park

“Who knew a chair could be a pain killer?” That’s what the news reporter for this segment said after hearing the positive effects chair yoga can have on patients with osteoarthritis.

It’s all part of the latest research study conducted by Dr. Juyoung Park, Associate Professor in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work at FAU.

One patient not only significantly reduced her pain, but also her blood pressure and was able to come off three medications for hypertension.

Watch the full news segment here and see why 80 percent of patients experienced decreased pain with regular chair yoga sessions.

Congratulations, Class of 2018!

On Thursday, May 3, 2018, nearly 300 bachelor students and 140 masters students accepted their diplomas from the College for Design and Social Inquiry at Florida Atlantic University. To all of our students, it has been our pleasure to have you in our classrooms and to watch you grow and learn in your programs.

Whether you are continuing your education or ready to apply your knowledge in the workforce, we look forward to watching your next chapter unfold. Remember that we are here for you and rooting for your success each step along the way.

As Chairman of the FAU Board of Trustees Anthony Barbar said during his undergraduate commencement speech, “It’s now our turn to learn from you.” Be well and best wishes!

  • 21 Bachelor of Architecture
  • 127 Bachelor of Arts
  • 16 Bachelor of General Studies
  • 14 Bachelor of Public Management
  • 23 Bachelor of Public Safety Administration
  • 70 Bachelor of Social Work
  • 16 Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning
  • 8 Bachelor of Urban Design
  • 9 Master of Nonprofit Management
  • 6 Master of Public Administration
  • 12 Master of Science
  • 106 Master of Social Work

Want to explore the degree programs in the College for Design and Social Inquiry at FAU? Call our Academic Advising Team today: (561) 297-2316

Spring 2018 Undergraduate Commencement

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Spring 2018 Graduate Commencement

Professor’s Arthritis Study Yields Surprising Findings

Congratulations to Dr. JuYoung Park, Associate Professor in the FAU Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, for her recent publication in the Journal of Public Health.

Dr. Park is the lead author of an in-depth arthritis study that reveals some surprising findings about arthritis prevalence and age-related trends.

“Dr. Park’s contributions are reaching national and international recognitions,” said Dr. Naelys Luna, Director of the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work. “She is an outstanding scholar, and we are all immensely proud of her.”

Broward Faculty Member of the Year

Cindy Sterne, Adjunct Instructor in the School of Social Work, was recently recognized as the Broward “Faculty Member of the Year” during the Broward Achievement Awards Luncheon hosted by Student Affairs and Broward Campus Administration.

“I truly could not be more grateful for receiving this entirely unexpected and most wonderful award,” Sterne said. “Being given the opportunity to teach for my beloved Alma Mater is really one of those ‘beyond my wildest dreams’ experiences.”

“To have a positive impact on the next generation of social workers is one of the most important ways we can serve our profession and our community. Being able to share my passion with others, to help students realize how important and valuable they are and our work is – well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.”

Congratulations, Cindy!

Meet our Student of the Year

Congratulations to Kimberley Small, winner of the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work Student of the Year Award!

“Kimberley is a powerhouse,” said Joy McClellan, MSW Program Coordinator and Instructor at the School.

“She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work as well as neuroscience, was awarded advanced standing admission to the MSW program, and was awarded one of our highly competitive Provost Fellowships, enabling her to engage in research with the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health here on campus. That’s all in addition to working with the Social Work Honor’s Society, Phi Alpha, to provide a job fair and a leadership seminar for her fellow classmates,” McClellan continued.

After being nominated by Dr. David Landsman-Wohlsifer, one of her instructors, Kimberley was also just named a Diversity Scholar by the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) and will be attending their annual conference this year in Austin, Texas, where she will join a cohort of other Diversity Scholars from around the world and enjoy opportunities for mentorship, career advice, and additional training.

According to Sara Dochterman, program coordinator for the School’s Professional Development division and School Instructor, Kimberley’s name appears with virtually every student-led project.

“Persistent and dedicated, Kimberley lives the values and ethics of social work,” Dochterman said. “In the classroom, she shines as one who strives to master the information and skills offered, and stands for her classmates to do the same. She is a powerful force ready to make a difference!”

Look out, world – Kimberley has a promising career ahead, and we look forward to watching it unfold.

Phyllis & Harvey Sandler Donate $7M to School of Social Work


Florida Atlantic University today announced a $7 million gift from longtime benefactors Phyllis and Harvey Sandler to name The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work within the College for Design and Social Inquiry.

“I am extremely passionate about improving the well-being of all, especially the lives of the students and faculty at Florida Atlantic University,” said Phyllis Sandler.

The gift also will establish two new Centers within The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work – the Robin Rubin Mindfulness and Wellness Center and the Substance Misuse, Mental Health and Research Center. A portion of the gift will go toward renovations to the College for Design and Social Inquiry.

“We are extremely grateful to Phyllis and Harvey Sandler for this transformational gift,” said FAU President John Kelly. “The Sandlers understand that social work plays a major role in America’s mental health and social services. Their generosity will help grow our program in remarkable ways and support some of the best and brightest students in the field.”

FAU began its relationship with the Sandler family more than 10 years ago when Phyllis and Harvey’s daughters, Robin Rubin and Amy Ross, decided to go back to school to earn their degrees in social work. Both graduated with honors, and Rubin went on to earn her master’s degree, teach part-time at FAU’s School of Social Work, as well as assemble the School’s first Social Work Community Advisory Board.

“This gift will give for generations to come,” said Wesley Hawkins, Ph.D., dean of the College for Design and Social Inquiry. “Because of the enormous generosity of Phyllis and Harvey Sandler, social work students and faculty can now more fully address the social issues that have plagued our society for centuries – substance misuse, child abuse, health care, suicide, depression – the list goes on and on. The impact and ripple effect of this gift is enormous for helping those in need in our communities for years to come. I am thrilled and very grateful to now call our school: the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work.”

For the past five years, the FAU School of Social Work’s Community Advisory Board, populated by some of Boca Raton’s most prominent community leaders, has highlighted the importance of the social work program at FAU and its impact on the local community. Because of this, FAU’s Phyllis Sandler Heart of Social Work annual fundraiser was created for the social work program and its students.

“It feels so good to give back,” said Harvey Sandler. “It’s important to make investments in your community and take pride in where you live.”

Phyllis and Harvey Sandler have a long history of philanthropic efforts in the community. Together they have named the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Pavilion at the Lynn Cancer Center and The Phyllis Sandler Center for Living Well at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital. They also named and endowed The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Center for Jewish Life Enhancement at the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community  Center. The Sandlers are also one of the largest contributors to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and created the organization’s Sandler Family Major Gifts annual event.

“Naming the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work reflects the incredible generosity of the Sandler family and their commitment to making an impact in the lives of thousands of people,” said Naelys Luna, Ph.D., director of FAU’s School of Social Work. “This is an unprecedented gift that will allow us to develop and fund programs, scholarships and research placing our school as a national leader in social work. This gift will also provide the foundation for continuous academic excellence and remarkable growth preparing some of the most dedicated and committed social work students.”

Because of the Sandler family’s close relationship with Barbara and Dick Schmidt, an additional gift of $250,000 will be given to name the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Student Athlete Lounge within the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence. The Complex will play a central role in elevating FAU’s academic standing and will benefit students in all academic programs, including those not associated with athletic programs.


Applause All Around – Student Research Project Presentations

Our students put countless hours of hard work into these fascinating – and extremely timely – research projects. It was extremely rewarding to hear them talk through their findings and insights. Victoria, Yve, and Haidee, thank you for your efforts. You make us all immensely proud.

Victoria Arcay and Yve Lopes, both bachelor’s students in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, presented findings of their research project, Effects of Nonpharmacological Intervention in Older Adults With Dementia, at the 8th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Haidee Cano, a master’s student, presented her project, Yo Tambien Importo: How Empowerment Groups Assist Undocumented Survivors of Gender-Based Violence, at the 2018 Latino Social Workers Conference at the University of Washington School of Social Work.

FAU Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work Offers Condolences To The Victims of the Parkland Tragedy

Heartbroken and in deep sorrow, the faculty, staff and students at The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work stand alongside of the students, teachers, families, first responders, law enforcement officers, friends of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and the Broward County community, as we mourn the lives of the victims of this horrific and senseless act of violence. As social workers, we will engage in actions to ensure that we assist and support those who were impacted by this tragedy. We will bring the strength and resiliency that our community sorely needs. We must focus all our energy, efforts, studies, training, and our life on not merely ending violence, but fostering harmony and connectedness among one another and instilling hope at times when hopelessness inundates our communities. In this time of crisis, let us commit ourselves to our calling to serve others and improve lives.  We will work alongside our community and take all necessary actions to restore hope and make it a safer and more equitable place.  FAU students who feel distressed or in need of emotional support can contact FAU counseling services at 561-297-3540.

Naelys Luna, Ph.D.
Director and Professor
Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work

FAU’S School of Social Work Celebrates 1000th Graduate


Florida Atlantic University’s Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work within the College for Design and Social Inquiry recently celebrated Shanekia Calbert as its 1,000thgraduate of the Master of Social Work program.

The Master of Social Work program was launched in 2000 and currently has 296 students enrolled in the program. Graduates are nationally renowned for the depth of their clinical expertise, and are in great demand as senior practitioners and health, mental health, and human service leaders.

Prior to her graduation, Calbert received two job offers and has accepted a position through her internship as a clinical therapist at Family Unity, an agency devoted to providing high quality services to children and families.

“The difference between interest and commitment is when you’re interested in doing something you do it only when it is convenient, but when you are committed to something, you accept no excuses only results,” said Calbert.

Calbert will assist several families who are involved in the foster care system that require specialized behavioral health services, an area she studied while earning a child welfare certificate from FAU’s Child Welfare Institute.

“We are thrilled to graduate our 1,000th Master in Social Work student,” said Naelys Luna, director of the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work. “Our graduates are highly trained and committed clinical social workers dedicated to making a fundamental difference in the lives of people they serve in our communities.”

Job Announcements


The School of Social Work does not have any open positions at this time.

For social work job opportunities in South Florida posted for outside agencies please visit our Facebook page.



FAU Sick Leave Study

FAU Sick Leave Study

Dr. LeaAnne DeRigne’s (Associate Professor of Social Work) recent research on the importance of paid sick leave benefits was published in the April issue of Health Affairs and has received wide press coverage and is being cited around the country by policy makers, lobbyists, and advocates pushing cities and states to mandate sick leave coverage. This is a wonderful example of research having an impact on real world policy changes.

Key findings from the study, which are representative of the nation, showed that regardless of income, age, race, occupation, full-time or part-time work status, health status or health insurance coverage, workers without paid sick leave were three times more likely to delay medical care than were workers with paid sick leave. They also were three times more likely to forgo needed medical care altogether. Furthermore, families of workers without paid sick leave were two times more likely to delay medical care and 1.6 times more likely to forgo needed medical care. The lowest-income group of workers without paid sick leave were at the highest risk of delaying and forgoing medical care for themselves and their family members — making the most financially vulnerable workers the least likely to be able to address health care concerns in a timely manner.

Link to Forbes Article

Link to streaming interview on The Kathleen Dunn Show

Link to FAU Press Release