One of the issues I am concerned about in the election, specifically Governor’s race is electing a candidate who will pass paid family leave legislation. I was part of the effort to pass earned sick and safe time in Minneapolis and then protect it against preemption at the state level, but it’s not always quite enough for small businesses like mine.
Good bakers and cooks are hard to find and keep. I do everything I can to reduce turnover at my cafe, and paying fair wages is part of that. I was an early adopter of earned sick and safe time when the ordinance came to Minneapolis, and it’s been good for my business. My employees know they will be taken care of, so they are loyal and work hard and that benefits my business. Last spring, when one of my two full-time bakers found out his partner was pregnant, I was one of the first people to know. They were worried about taking time to be off and wanted to be able to plan.
While the employee had earned six days worth of paid time off, I decided to pay three weeks paternity leave. Honestly, it cost me quite a bit, and was even more challenging as I had to pay another employee overtime to cover the missing employee’s time. To make up expenses like these, I end up just not paying myself.
It was the right thing to do, and I am glad that the family had that time together, but I can’t imagine doing this for more than one employee in a year. Restaurants run on a very small profit margin. We need more support for paid family leave to pass next session. I will support candidates who make it easier for small businesses like mine to provide benefits to employees, so people can work at our restaurants and retail shops and still have a high quality of life and access to healthcare and basic benefits like family leave.