What Small Business Owners Should Know About Family Medical Leave Insurance

There are many complex policy issues that have a major impact on the small business community. Each week, we’re going to help break one of those issues down so small business owners can stay in the know and remain aware of their stake in these national issues. This week’s Issue Q&A is on family medical leave.

Q: What is family medical leave insurance?

A: Family medical leave insurance is a program that provides employees with a portion of their wages for a limited number of weeks when the employee has a serious illness, a new baby to care for or a seriously ill family member in need of care.

Q: What should small businesses be aware of when it comes to family medical leave?

A: The Family and Medical Leave Act, a law signed over 20 years ago allowing eligible employees of covered employees to take a limited amount of unpaid, job-protected leave is supported by more than 80% of entrepreneurs, according to our scientific opinion polling. Currently, there are proposals to set up publicly-administered family and medical leave insurance pools at the state and national level.

Q: Are there any differences between the national FAMILY act and the proposals being considered at the state level?

States like Connecticut, Colorado and New York are considering proposals that would create state-administered insurance programs funded entirely by modest employee payroll contributions. Our polling found that a majority of business owners support these types of insurance pools.

Q: Why do these types of policies matter to small businesses?

A: The hard work and vitality of small business employees are crucial to a business’ success. It makes good business sense to take care of employees in order to retain a loyal, talented and healthy workforce, and to attract the top talent around. In fact, 68% of small businesses already have either a formal or informal policy in place when it comes to family medical leave. These policies afford employees a set amount of time they can take off for a serious illness or if they need to care for a newborn or loved one, without having to worry about losing their job. Additionally, nearly 40% of small business owners already offer full or partial pay to employees for this leave.