Many small businesses — just like other companies — are in a labor crunch at the moment. So how might they view paid family leave, which some lawmakers are pushing for in Washington?
A group of small companies surveyed in New York and New Jersey became more supportive of the idea in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new working paper out this week.
The pandemic may have made some small business owners more aware of what people need to deal with illness, said Stanford professor Maya Rossin-Slater, one of the study’s authors.
“I think the pandemic highlighted, in this massive way, the extreme need that people have to be able to take time off work.,” she said.
Still, the study may not fully reflect the challenges small business owners face when workers take time off, according to Kevin Kuhlman with the National Federation of Independent Business. He said that can particularly be true for the smallest companies with fewer than 10 workers.
“The owner would have to take on more responsibilities as would more of the employees. And that is during a time when employers are having trouble filling open positions as is,” Kuhlman said.
But the alternative to paid leave could be more dire for business owners, said Rossin-Slater.
“For some of the most vulnerable workers that might mean they have to just quit their jobs if they can’t get leave,” she said.
She added that would be even worse for employers already short on staff.