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Registered Nurses Rank 1st for Access to Childcare, Paid Family Leave, and Employee Wellness Benefits

NurseJournal Staff
Updated February 22, 2024
    This page explores employee benefits for registered nurses using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employee Benefits Survey for 2020.
    Female nurse smiles while staring out window in hospital hallway and holding digital tablet with electronic patient fileCredit: Courtney Hale / E+ / Getty Images

    Salaries comprise only part of an employee’s total earnings. Benefits are also important, as they provide the resources workers need to avoid burnout. Employee benefits help companies attract potential workers and demonstrate that employers are invested in maintaining their workers’ overall health and well-being. In the healthcare industry, benefits can help registered nurses (RNs) stay well-rested, healthy, and motivated to perform to their best abilities.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employee Benefits Survey examines benefits for workers in many different industries. The survey considers benefits, such as paid vacation leave, paid family leave, retirement benefits, and subsidized commuting.

    According to the BLS’ findings, nurses rank first for access to childcare, paid family leave, and employee wellness benefits.

    • 28% of nurses receive childcare
    • 36% get paid family leave
    • 81% can take advantage of employee wellness programs

    In fact, nurses receive a higher percentage of benefits compared to all workers in the U.S. in nearly all categories. This guide highlights benefits for nurses and explores how they compare to other professions. It also shows how these benefits have changed over time.

    On Average, Registered Nurses Have Better Access to Employee Benefits

    The table below lists some common employee benefits, including paid sick leave, paid holiday leave, and healthcare. The data shows the percentage of RNs who receive these benefits in comparison to the percentage of all workers with access to the same benefits.

    According to the data, nurses enjoy greater access to 11 out of these 12 benefits than workers in other fields.

    The benefits with the largest percentage point difference in access were:

    • Employee wellness programs. About 81% of nurses receive access to this benefit, compared to 44% of all workers. That’s a 37% difference overall.
    • Life insurance. Approximately 84% of nurses received this benefit, compared to 73% of all workers. The difference is 24%.
    • Retirement. About 90% of nurses enjoyed retirement benefits, compared to 71% of workers in other fields. That equals a 19% difference.

    The only instance in which all workers received greater access to a benefit than nurses involved flexible work scheduling. This is likely unsurprising to many nurses, who often work nights and 12-hours shifts. Overall, however, nurses enjoy far more benefits than the average worker.

    Percentage of Employees With Access to Each Benefit: Registered Nurses Compared to All Workers
    Employee BenefitRegistered NursesAll Workers
    Paid Sick Leave94%78%
    Paid Holiday Leave92%78%
    Retirement Benefits90%71%
    Paid Vacation Leave89%76%
    Life Insurance84%60%
    Employee Wellness Program81%44%
    Paid Family Leave36%21%
    Subsidized Commuting14%8%
    Student Loan Repayment10%4%
    Flexible Work Schedule10%12%

    Source: BLS Employee Benefits Survey

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    Access to Employee Benefits Has Improved for Nurses Over the Past Decade

    The following table shows how nurses’ access to benefits has changed over the past decade. As the data demonstrates, the percentage of nurses who receive these benefits has increased in every category.

    Among the key findings:

    • The greatest change occurred with employee wellness programs. In 2020, 81% of nurses enjoyed access to these programs, compared to 59% in 2010. That’s a change of 22%.
    • The number of nurses who received life insurance policies also increased significantly. A decade ago, about 73% of nurses held life insurance policies, which increased to 84% in 2020. That equals a difference of 11%.
    • Subsidized commuting experienced the least growth. In 2010, 11% of nurses were reimbursed for their commuting costs. By 2020, that percentage had only increased to 14%, a difference of just 3%.

    If trends continue, access to these benefits should continue to grow. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may influence RNs’ benefit opportunities.

    Please note: this table does not include student loan repayment or flexible work schedule, as the BLS survey only began collecting this data in 2020.

    Percentage of Registered Nurses With Access to Each Benefit: In 2010, 2015, and 2020
    Employee Wellness Program59%69%81%
    Life Insurance90%71%78%
    Paid Vacation Leave89%76%78%
    Life Insurance73%77%84%
    Paid Family Leave82%86%92%
    Paid Holiday Leave82%86%92%
    Paid Sick Leave83%86%92%
    Paid Vacation Leave82%85%90%
    Retirement Benefits82%83%90%
    Subsidized Commuting11%9%14%

    Source: BLS Employee Benefits Survey

    Registered Nurses Enjoy an Above Average Number of Paid Vacation Days

    This table illustrates the average number of paid vacation days for nurses compared to all workers. The table also shows how those numbers change by length of employment.

    As the data indicates, nurses consistently receive more paid vacation days than all other workers. On average, nurses get three more days of paid vacation than all employees, a figure that’s consistent throughout the length of employment. As you can see:

    • After one year, nurses receive 17 vacation days, on average. That’s compared to 14 vacation days for all workers.
    • After 20 years, the difference remains the same. Nurses receive an average of 26 vacation days, while all workers get an average of 23 vacation days.

    Research has shown that taking vacation days leads to better mental health and improved productivity. Many nurses do not take advantage of their allotted paid vacation days, citing scheduling complications or other responsibilities. However, professionals who work in high-pressure environments like healthcare can help manage their stress by taking time off.

    Average Number of Paid Vacation Days By Length of Employment
    Length of EmploymentRegistered NursesAll Workers
    After 1 Year1714
    After 5 Years2118
    After 10 Years2421
    After 20 Years2623

    Source: BLS Employee Benefits Survey

    Good Benefits Create Happy Employees

    Research shows that good benefits only reinforce better employee retention rates. A survey from America’s Health Insurance Plans found that 56% of workers with healthcare benefits considered their healthcare coverage to be a key factor in whether to stay at their current job.

    This information can also serve as a powerful tool for nurses on the job hunt. Keeping these figures in mind, nurses may be able to negotiate the benefits within their employment agreement. Individuals who know that most nurses get paid vacation and sick leave are more likely to demand these benefits in their employment conditions.

    They also know that it is far less common to receive benefits, such as subsidized community and childcare. The healthcare industry still has areas for improvement. Only 36% of nurses enjoy paid family leave, 28% get childcare, and 10% receive help with student loan repayment.

    Nevertheless, nurses enjoy a wealth of benefits compared to other workers in the United States. These benefits help nurses perform well, lessen the chances of burnout, and pay off for employers. After all, happy and fulfilled employees lead to better outcomes for patients.


    Data was collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Compensation Survey March 2020 and accessed on December 7-8, 2020. Data reflects access rates for civilian workers, which includes employees from both the public and private sectors. Healthcare is a collective term that includes any employee with access to medical, vision, dental benefits or outpatient prescription drug coverage.

    Average number of vacation days reflects time off for employees with consolidated leave plans that designate a single amount of time off for multiple purposes.