Sick Days and Family Medical Leave

The nation has entered an exciting new era that will allow millions of lower-wage workers to access health care insurance. Tragically, many of these workers will be unable to take advantage of this historic new benefit because they cannot take time off of work to get the care they need due to lack of earned  sick days.  With no job protections or paid sick leave, these workers face impossible choices between taking time to access healthcare for themselves or their loved ones and potentially losing wages or even their jobs.

At the same time, the nation is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an historic act that allowed many workers time to care for themselves or their loved ones. However, many workers are unable to take advantage of this policy, which guarantees only unpaid leave, because they cannot afford to take to with family without pay. Many more remain ineligible for even unpaid leave, because their employer is exempt from the policy or they have insufficient tenure in their job.

As part of its work life and job quality work, CLASP advocates for state and federal earned sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance policies that will prevent more workers from being denied the time to tend to their own or a family member's health, or care for a new child. Across the country, campaigns to secure these workplace protections for all workers are gaining momentum.

Mar 30, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Small Business Support for FAMILY Act

By Liz Ben-Ishai

Small businesses would welcome a paid family and medical leave insurance program, according to a new poll by Small Business Majority (SBM) and Center for American Progress (CAP). The poll finds that 70 percent of small businesses support the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would establish a federal paid family and medical leave program.  These findings add to the strong body of evidence that paid leave public policies do not burden employers.

In addition to supporting the idea of paid family and medical leave, small businesses believe in the specific model proposed under the FAMILY Act. The FAMILY Act would be funded by small employee and employer contributions. It would enable workers to receive up to 12 weeks of partial income when they take time off to care for a new child or sick family member or to recover from their own serious illness.

The social insurance model for paid family and medical leave resonates with small businesses, enabling them to offer a highly-valued benefit without footing the entire bill. California’s paid family leave program, which serves as a model for the FAMILY Act, is a strong example. California restaurant owner Jennifer Piallat explains: “Our state program helps me offer paid family leave to my employees—another tool for me to retain great workers who are loyal to the restaurant—without having to shoulder the cost by myself.” Dan Teran, co-founder and CEO of Managed by Q, a fast-growing office maintenance start-up, also notes the importance of the social insurance model in his industry: “This program helps us offer a critical support to our staff without having to shoulder the full cost of these leaves, which is a challenge in an industry where every worker who is absent must be replaced.”

SBM's and CAP’s poll also highlights remarkable growth in business support, which has increased 25 percentage points since 2013. Additionally, the poll shows overwhelming support for expanding job protection policies—which guarantee workers’ job security while they’re taking leave—to all businesses with 20 or more employees.

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about the impact of paid family and medical leave insurance. Last week, Pew reported that while Americans overwhelmingly support universal paid family and medical leave, they mistakenly believe it would hurt small businesses. This contrast between public perception and small business owners’ views  demonstrates the importance of hearing employers tell the real story: paid family and medical leave insurance supports workers, strengthens businesses, and promotes economic growth.

President Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton both expressed support for paid leave in last year’s campaign. However, their visions for paid leave were radically different. SBM's and CAP’s poll represents a wide range of political ideologies; 44 percent of respondents identified as Republican, 32 percent as Democrat, and 16 percent as independent. The majority of these small business owners are sending Congress a clear message: the FAMILY Act is the right approach to paid family and medical leave.

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