New Report: Small Business Owners Support Paid Family Leave, FAMILY Act

New report shows small businesses support common sense solutions to a national problem.


Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep Rosa DeLauro reintroduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which creates a universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave (PFML) program. The US has the worst family leave policy in the industrialized world, and the FAMILY Act comes at a time when the need for a national PFML policy is at a tipping point and is gaining bipartisan support. PFML is critical to the health of the small business community.

Main Street Alliance leaders from across the country worked together to create a Paid Family and Medical Leave proposal for small business success which included recommendations that were incorporated into the FAMILY Act.

“A national paid family and medical leave program would enable small businesses to compete on a level playing field with larger employers, reduce turnover costs, provide an important safety net for business owners themselves, and support the local economy,” said Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of Main Street Alliance. “The FAMILY Act is the type of legislation that would help small business owners keep pace with the needs of today’s workforce.”

Among the key points is that small businesses need a simple, affordable insurance system that covers extended leave for both themselves and their employees. All employees need time off to care for family or themselves in the course of a career. In a 2016 survey conducted by the Main Street Alliance of more than 1,500 small businesses, 64% of business owners supported passing a federal PFML bill, but 84% could not offer paid leave. States with existing PFML policies use a social insurance system that keeps administrative and financial costs under control by applying a tiny payroll tax of .2 to 1 percent. With a similar system in place on the federal level, small businesses can better compete with large companies, retain employees, and rely on steadier consumer demand.

“The FAMILY Act would ensure that families no longer have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a loved one,” said Jayson Waits, the owner of Bloomtastic Florists in Columbus, Ohio. “Equipping small businesses like mine with paid family leave levels the playing field with larger competitors and helps me retain my talented employees—reducing costly turnover and acquisition costs.”

A national PFML insurance program also gives small business owners and sole proprietors themselves a vital measure of security. Without an insurance pool, they are at risk of financial free-fall in the event of a single accident or medical emergency. By guaranteeing an income that’s administered similarly to social security, the FAMILY Act protects these entrepreneurs’ businesses and the communities they support.

“You shouldn’t have to find the right job with the right boss to be treated fairly at work, and that is why the FAMILY Act is so important,” said Sabrina Parsons, the owner of Palo Alto Software in Eugene, Oregon. “With the passage of the FAMILY Act, paid leave can become the national standard and we can ensure that no one is forced out of work because of injury, illness, or the need to provide care for a family member.”

A federal PFML policy would be a game changer for small businesses, and the cost under the FAMILY Act amounts to less than $1.50 per week for a typical employee - the cost of a cup of coffee. Main Street Alliance’s six-point policy proposal ensures that no small business owner or their employee has to choose between their family and their job during the toughest times.