Todd Mikkelson: No business should have to make a tough call like this

Two years ago, my manufacturing shop supervisor and most experienced employee came to me with a problem: he needed a hip replacement, which would mean two months away from work.

All small businesses depend on their workers, particularly a specialized one like mine. It takes a lot of time to train someone in this unique field. We’re thriving, but we run lean and can’t afford a paid family and medical leave policy on our own as easily as many larger businesses can.

Large corporations see the benefit in providing this benefit, and many put it into their budget. Of course I paid my employee’s wages until he was able to return to work. Otherwise he’d go without the surgery he needed or look for another job. But it cost us a much larger percentage of our budget than it costs a large corporation to provide the same.

I really couldn’t afford to lose this employee and decided to do everything I could to retain him. But the decision wasn’t easy, and my business took a financial hit. No business should have to make a tough call like this. Congress can and should do better for all of us by passing a real paid family and medical leave policy, like the FAMILY Act.

Todd Mikkelson and his wife are the owners of the RM Group, which patented the Spray Rack.

Check out more Small Business for Paid Leave resources at smallbusinessforpaidleave.org.