Small Business Owners Support Federal Paid Family Medical Leave and Earned Sick Days

By Zoe Ziliak Michel

Small business owners support federal legislation to provide all workers access to paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and an increased minimum wage, according to a new report from the Main Street Alliance (MSA).

MSA, a small business network giving owners a voice in public policy debates, surveyed over 1,000 small business owners in 9 states regarding state and federal business policies. Overall, though only 44 percent of owners offer paid sick days to their employees, 65 percent support a federal standard that would require employers to offer paid sick days, such as the Healthy Families Act (HFA). Similarly, only 13 percent of those surveyed provide their employees paid family leave, but 64 percent favor a national paid family leave policy like the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act. That support swells to 74 percent among business owners who are people of color or women. Lastly, 59 percent of survey respondents support increasing the minimum wage to between $12 and $15 an hour.

The report shows that small business owners, including those who do not currently provide paid sick days or family medical leave, recognize that public policy that promotes job quality helps not only working families, but also small businesses. For example, employers in jurisdictions with paid sick days laws report increased productivity and reduced turnover, which has saved them the costs of hiring new workers. And the Puget Sound Business Journal just reported that Seattle has seen a boom in new restaurant openings following the city’s minimum wage increase.

MSA’s findings reflect those of broader national surveys on public policy. Nationwide, 81 percent of likely 2016 voters, including 65 percent of Republicans, favor public policy to provide workers paid time off to care for their families, according to a January 2015 poll from Make it Work.

Voters and small business owners agree: it’s time for public policy that helps working families.