Republican arguments against laws that guarantee paid leave for workers often hinge on the notion that the policy would damage small-business owners, the backbone of our society. But what happens if you ask the small-business owners what they want? A new survey comfortably debunks the myth: Almost two-thirds of small-business owners support a national policy for paid medical and family leave.
“A super majority of small-business owners do support—have continued to support—a national paid-leave policy,” says Dawn Huckelbridge, director of Paid Leave for All, the nonprofit that conducted the survey. The results appear to conflict with the widely held public perception that small businesses may be opposed to the policy, which would require businesses to give paid days off to workers for things like illness, bereavement, or parental leave. For many reasons, Huckelbridge says, the reverse is true. She contends that a paid-leave policy can help small businesses stay competitive and sturdy their bottom lines. “It helps with productivity and performance and profitability,” she says. “It makes for a happier worker, and there’s less turnover.”
Paid Leave for All started in December by bringing together various groups that had been advocating for a national leave policy, to align their goals and resources. The organization partnered with Main Street Alliance, a network of small-business owners that aims to give that community a voice on public policy issues. The survey respondents consist of 600 owners of businesses with up to 49 employees; the poll also deliberately over-samples racial minorities, by including 100 Black business owners and 100 Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander owners. About half (48%) of the respondents say they do not currently provide any type of sick, family, or medical leave.
From a public health standpoint, the coronavirus crisis has reinforced the advantages of—and dire need for—policy