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Small Businesses Want Access to Paid Family Leave Programs

Paid family leave has been a hot topic lately, and as usual, the impact to small business is a central component of the debate. New scientific opinion polling we released this week with the Center for American Progress finds the vast majority of small businesses in fact support paid family medical leave programs, and that many small employers already offer formal or informal family leave policies, many of which are paid. 

More key findings from our report can be found below:

  • Small employers believe it’s important to establish a national paid family and medical leave program: While small businesses are supportive of a federal law allowing eligible workers to take unpaid family and medical leave, the vast majority (70%) believe it’s important to establish a federal program to guarantee access to paid family and medical leave.

  • 7 in 10 small businesses support the FAMILY Act, legislation that would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program funded by employee and employer contributions to ensure men and women in the workforce can receive up to 12 weeks of partial income when they need take family or parental leave.

  • Small employers also support state-administered paid family and medical leave insurance programs that would provide employees with a portion of their wages for a limited number of weeks when the employee has a serious illness, has a new baby to care for or needs to care for a seriously ill family member. Sixty-one percent support state paid leave programs funded by both employer and employee contributions and 56% support state programs funded entirely by employee contributions.

  • The majority of small businesses offer some sort of parental leave to allow employees to care for a new child: 26% offer maternity leave, and nearly 4 in 10 (37%) offer both maternity and paternity leave. Sixty-nine percent of those with a policy offer full or partial pay and 18% offer pay depending on the employee.

One entrepreneur who has made family leave a priority for her own business is Heather Whaling, Founder and CEO of Geben Communication in Columbus, Ohio. Heather developed a paid family leave policy for her business because she believes investing in employees is not only good for families but is also good for her bottom line.

“I believe paid family and medical leave programs are important for small businesses because they help recruit and retain employees,” said Heather. “But I also know that many entrepreneurs don’t have the resources to offer paid family leave, which is why we need the FAMILY Act—it will make these valuable programs accessible to everyone.” 

Small business owners like Heather know it makes good business sense to take care of their employees, as it’s crucial to retaining a productive and talented workforce. But unfortunately many small businesses do not have the resources to offer robust paid family and medical leave benefits, which often puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. That’s why we hope lawmakers will do more to help establish state and federal family and medical leave programs that can help level the playing field for small employers. 

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