Survey: 80% of small businesses oppose 15-week mandatory paid family leave



(The Center Square) – A new survey says Michigan’s small businesses mostly oppose a mandated paid family leave program of up to 15 weeks per employee funded by a new tax.

A Small Business Association of Michigan survey found small businesses expect increased costs associated with the program Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed in August.

“Michigan’s small businesses have been through the wringer over the past several years, yet here they are facing a significant impediment to their continued success,” SBAM President and CEO Brian Calley said in a statement. “Most policymakers are quick to say they support small businesses – we need their actions to meet those words in the policies they pursue at the Capitol.”

More than 80% of survey respondents reported they can’t support a proposal to mandate paid leave of up to 15 weeks per year for all employees through a new tax.

About 70% of those respondents said if enacted, this paid leave policy would be extremely detrimental to their operations, with 20% indicating somewhat detrimental. Of the respondents, 75% indicated they had already voluntarily offered some paid leave for their employees.

“Voluntary paid leave for employees is something many small employers offer as they grow and are able to pay for increased benefits,” Owner of Fenton Winery and Brewery Ginny Sherow said in a statement. “But in early stages, that’s not possible for most small businesses. If this one-size-fits-all mandate is put in place, it will guarantee many of Michigan’s would-be small business success stories never make it to reality.”

The survey conducted Sept. 13-18 of nearly 500 small businesses showed 77% oppose proposed bills in Lansing to increase the weekly cash benefit for unemployment benefits and 80% oppose increasing the duration of unemployment from five months to six.

Those funds are paid for through state and federal taxes on employers.

The survey asked about other policy priorities to make Michigan a better state in which to do business.

The tope answer was tied between “lower taxes” and “improving our educational system.” Other major priorities were reducing regulations, expanding the workforce, increasing access to secondary education, including the trades, improving infrastructure, and expanding childcare options, respectively.

Jada Paisley, executive director of the Michigan Golf Course Association said the proposal in Lansing would greatly impact seasonal employers.

“Many small businesses, especially those with seasonal workers, do not have the financial capability or employee reserves to be able to offer extensive paid leave policies,” Paisley said in a statement.

More than 75% of small businesses surveyed also stated they have increased compensation by 5% or more over the past year.

Michigan already mandates paid medical leave for employees, however, the law exempts small businesses. Eleven states have laws that mandate paid family medical leave.

The Small Business Association of Michigan serves more than 32,000 members in all 83 counties of Michigan.



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