I know first-hand the difference having access to paid family and medical leave can make. When my first daughter came home and I was working at a job with paid leave benefits, I was able to be home with her for three months, and my husband was able to take six weeks off as well, thanks to the benefits I had at work.
As first-time parents it was wonderful to have that time to bond with her. By the time my second daughter arrived, our Design + Build company had grown so that we were both full-time in our start-up. We looked into purchasing short-term disability insurance–but for a high risk industry like ours the costs were astronomical. With high premiums, exclusions and low benefits, the private insurance costs far outweighed the benefit and we made the hard decision to go without this coverage.
This time, with a new business and no paid leave, I was back at work a few days after my second daughter was born–juggling caring for her and our growing workload. For our overall mental health and stress levels, it would have been a huge relief to have something in place for paid leave.
That’s why I support the paid family and medical leave social insurance program. It levels the playing field between big and small business and it just makes common sense for a society that cares about family. In the construction trade we work with many sub-contractors with small or one-person shops. They are in the same boat needing a program like this. We work with one person whose mother-in-law just had a stroke and his father-in-law has dementia and another contractor who took a huge financial hit to take the time he needed to care for his father’s health. We need a national paid family and medical insurance program that covers all businesses, regardless of size, and all individuals, whether they are employees that work parttime, full-time, individuals who are self-employed, or are independent contractors, or are business owners themselves.
Emily Ingwersen is the co-owner of Ginger Hill Design + Build, a premier green building firm in Maine
Check out more Small Business for Paid Leave resources at smallbusinessforpaidleave.org.