Dear Mr. President:
My name is Lisa Goodbee, and I’m the owner of Goodbee & Associates, a woman-run engineering firm in Centennial, CO. I have had the pleasure of meeting you at the White House to discuss issues affecting small business, and I have great regard for the work you have accomplished to date. I wanted to personally reach out to you to let you know my stance on the importance of family medical leave policies to small businesses, and specifically, the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Act’s impact on the 120,000 Colorado small businesses with employees.
I started my engineering firm 20 years ago with the hope of creating a more family-friendly work environment. In the engineering consulting field, I have seen far too many women leave their demanding jobs because the majority of employers in this industry have yet to embrace workplace flexibility and family-friendly practices. I support legislation such as the FAMLI Act because I firmly believe it will ultimately enable mothers, caregivers, and women (and men) who need paid time off to take care of personal medical issues without having to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for their families.
I have had employees with cancer and ailing parents and children, and I am proud to say that they have never had to choose between their careers and their health or their family’s needs. I believe the proposed FAMLI program will help ensure this is the norm and not the exception in small and large businesses alike.
What’s more, many small business owners feel as I do that paid family and medical leave isn’t just the right thing to do, but that it makes good business sense. Taking care of our employees is crucial to retaining a loyal, talented workforce. In fact, Small Business Majority, a national small business organization with offices here in Colorado, polled a random sample of small businesses across the country and found small employers support family medical leave policies because they create a happier and more productive staff, which in turn leads to increased profits. Many small business owners, myself included, think of their employees like family, so it’s no surprise they support these types of programs. Policies such as these enable us to foster a better workforce while protecting both our workers and our bottom line.
Small businesses understand the importance of policies like these because many are already dealing with or have dealt with such situations. Nearly 70% have offered leave and pay options to employees with serious health conditions who have needed to take extended time off. Another 60% of small businesses have had employees take extended medical leave to deal with either a newborn child or to care for an ailing family member. I can say from experience that small businesses don’t see a loss in productivity when employees take this type of leave, either. Small Business Majority found 7 out of 10 small businesses simply reassign an employee’s workload to another employee temporarily. Only 14% hire some sort of replacement.
So what do all these statistics mean? It’s simple: As a small business owner, I understand how important it is for employees who need to balance their work and family responsibilities to have reasonable options for doing so—options that also meet the needs of us, their employers. Small businesses’ support of family medical leave policies is proof of this. President Obama, as a small business owner, I urge your support of a national paid sick days bill or a national family and medical leave insurance program. Thank you.
Lisa A. Goodbee, P.E.
President, Goodbee & Associates, Inc
Member of Small Business Majority‘s Small Business Council