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Scientific Opinion Poll: Small Businesses Overwhelmingly Support Paid Family Leave Policies

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, 30 March, 2017

New poll finds majority of small employers favor a national program funded by both employee and employer contributions; majority of small employers have formal or informal policies in place for family leave

Washington, D.C.— A scientific opinion poll released today shows that an overwhelming majority of small employers support a national paid family and medical leave program, which would be funded by employee and employer contributions. The survey also revealed that the majority of small firms already offer formal or informal family leave policies, many of which are paid. 

The internet poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners on behalf of Small Business Majority and the Center for American Progress, found that a vast 7 in 10 owners and operators of small businesses support the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, legislation that would establish a federal paid leave insurance program funded by modest contributions from employers and employees. Nearly half—47 percent—say they strongly favor this type of program, which would ensure that employees could receive part of their salary for up to 12 weeks when they need to take time off to recover from a serious illness or to care for a new child or a sick family member.

“I developed a paid family leave program for my business because investing in employees is good for business and good for families,” said Heather Whaling, Founder and CEO of Geben Communication in Columbus, Ohio. “I believe paid family and medical leave programs are important for small businesses because they help recruit and retain employees. 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 employers also strongly support state-administered paid family and medical leave insurance programs: 61 percent support state paid leave programs funded by both employer and employee contributions, with each contributing approximately two-tenths of 1 percent of an employee’s wages. Fifty-six percent support programs funded entirely by employee contributions—approximately two-fifths of 1 percent of an employee’s wages.

“Most small employers support state and national paid family leave policies because they recognize that a sick or distracted employee is bad for business,” said Small Business Majority Founder and CEO John Arensmeyer. “Many small firms already offer formal or informal leave policies, but in some cases, that is not enough. A federal policy would go a long way toward helping entrepreneurs and their employees through difficult times, while also benefiting business owners’ bottom lines.”

Additionally, the poll found that many small businesses currently offer some sort of parental leave to allow employees to care for a new child: 26 percent offer maternity leave, and nearly 4 in 10—37 percent—offer both maternity and paternity leave. For those employers that do offer parental leave, nearly 7 in 10 offer full or partial pay, and 18 percent offer pay depending on the employee. Only 13 percent of those with a policy do not offer any paid parental leave.

What’s more, 7 in 10 small businesses have some type of policy, formal or informal, in place when it comes to family leave—time an employee would take to care for a family member with a serious illness or caregiving need. Sixty-one percent of those offering family leave provide full or partial pay, and 22 percent offer pay depending on the employee.

“The vast majority of Americans—including workers and small business owners—recognize that our nation’s workplace policies have failed to keep pace with the challenges that today’s working families face,” said Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress. “Now more than ever, families need Congress to put forth a comprehensive work-family agenda that addresses the myriad caregiving challenges workers experience. And small business owners agree. It’s time to enact a federal paid family leave program.”  

The survey reflects a poll of 512 small business owners and operators with 2 to 99 employees. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.

For the full poll report, please visit: http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/our-research/workforce/small-businesses-support-paid-family-leave-programs

About Small Business Majority
Small Business Majority was founded and is run by small business owners to focus on solving the biggest problems facing small businesses today. Since 2005, we have actively engaged small business owners and policymakers in support of public policy solutions, and have delivered information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth and drive a strong economy. We regularly engage our network of 50,000 small business owners, along with a formal strategic partnership program of more than 150 business organizations, enabling us to reach more than 500,000 entrepreneurs. Our extensive scientific polling, focus groups and economic research help us educate and inform policymakers, the media and other stakeholders about key issues impacting small businesses and freelancers, including access to capital, taxes, healthcare, retirement, entrepreneurship and workforce development. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About the Center for American Progress
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just, and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values, and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Topic: 
PSD/Benefits
Workforce