Paid Time Off

Get the Facts

What are Cancer Screenings?

Every year in NYS, more than 25,000 people are diagnosed with breast, cervical, or colon cancer.  These cancers can be found early or prevented through screening.  Cancer screening can help prevent cancer from developing or detect these cancers early, when treatment may work best.  Examples of cancer screening are: mammograms, Pap smears, fecal tests, and colonoscopies.  There is enough evidence that the benefits of screening for these cancers outweigh any risks.

Individuals may not get their recommended cancer screening for reasons such as:

  • Do not have enough sick time;
  • Appointments are only available during traditional office hours and they are not able to leave work; and/or
  • Not have time to miss work/employment, afraid to use sick time for preventative care.

What is a Paid Time Off Benefit for Cancer Screenings?

Paid time off (PTO) for cancer screenings refers to time granted to employees specifically to obtain recommended cancer screenings. This time is not charged against other sick, vacation, or personal leave time.  Paid time off can help individuals be up to date with recommended screenings for cancers such as breast, cervical, and colorectal.

Employers can adopt their own organizational policy allowing employees to take paid time off for cancer screenings.  In NYS, public employees are already provided four hours of PTO for any cancer screenings.

A paid time off benefit for cancer screening is important because it alleviates a significant barrier to cancer screenings.  Employees do not need to choose between a potentially life-saving screening and a paycheck. Employees may be more likely to get screened for cancer if they can take paid time off for their screenings. Employees getting cancer screenings can reduce health care costs related to cancer and improve work force health.

Did You Know…?

  • One out of five cancer deaths are caused by breast, cervical, or colon cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the U.S.
  • Despite screening advances and lower number of cases, cervical cancer remains a cause of cancer death among U.S.
  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among New Yorkers.

Adopt a Policy for Paid Time Off for Cancer Screening

Employers can play an important role in increasing life-saving cancer screenings for employees.  Adopting a policy allowing employees to take time off from work to get a cancer screening can reduce health care costs related to cancer and improve work force health.  The purpose of a policy is to help prevent or detect certain cancers at an early stage, by allowing employees to obtain preventive medical services such as cancer screenings without using accrued leave or sick time.

The Case for Paid Time Off for Cancer Screening

  • Finding cancer early can save lives, as treatment is most likely to be successful.
  • Employees with paid time off for health screenings are more likely to get screened for cancer than employees without paid time off.
  • Early detection lowers costs. Late-stage cancer needs more expensive treatment. Stage 4 colon cancer treatment is three times more expensive than stage 1 treatment costs.
  • Cancer affects how well employees work (productivity).
  • Cancer is one of the top five most costly diseases in the United States. It leads to substantial work loss, both in terms of number of work days lost and absenteeism costs.
  • Cancer is estimated to cost a business more than $1,600 in lost productivity per year for each employee diagnosed.

Spread the Word

Employers can play an important role in increasing life-saving cancer screenings for employees.  If your business or organization would like to learn more about adopting a paid time off for cancer screening policy, contact a local Cancer Prevention in Action resource in your county.