Family Values @ Work

Small Businesses Declare Their Support For Paid Sick And Family Leave

June 12, 2013

On Tuesday, a coalition of businesses launched a website in support of earned sick leave and family leave insurance called “Better Workplaces, Better Businesses.” The site is a partnership of the American Sustainable Business Council, the Main Street Alliance, and Social Venture Network and includes a comprehensive list of businesses that support campaigns for these policies in the states.

Some large business groups, such as local chambers of commerce, large food chains, and the conservative group the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) have opposed the state push for paid sick leave, arguing that it will drive up costs. The small businesses listed on the new site, however, are in support of the policy.

Research shows that paid sick leave policies that in San FranciscoConnecticut, and other cities and states haven’t been harmful to businesses and have actually boosted productivity and profits in many cases. They may actuallyincrease job creation. Sick days also boost companies’ bottom lines through lower turnover, increased productivity, and lower health care costs.

Sick leave policies are currently in place in San Francisco, California; Seattle Washington; Washington, DC; Portland, Oregon; and Connecticut, with New York City set to join the group shortly. Yet 40 percent of private sector workersand 80 percent of low-income workers still don’t receive paid sick days.

Only two states, on the other hand, go beyond the 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to ensure workers can access paid family leave: California and New Jersey. Businesses in those states don’t report any adverse impacts from the law and many report a positive one. Connecticut recently took a step toward becoming the third state with such a policy.

Overall, only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public sector workers have access to paid maternity leave through their employers and about 40 percent of workers aren’t even covered by the FMLA. Nearly halfof those who don’t take unpaid leave say it’s because they can’t afford it.