Small businesses share views on current issues: vaccine mandates, supply chain disruptions and Build Back Better
From ongoing supply chain disruptions to new fears surrounding potential impacts stemming the Omicron variant, small business owners continue to face uncertainty about the future of their businesses. A new survey from Small Business Majority sheds a light on how supply chain disruptions are impacting small business during the crucial fourth quarter, as well as their views on current policy issues such as the Biden administration’s vaccine employer mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees and key components in the Build Back Better plan that are being negotiated in the U.S. Senate.
Entrepreneurs support COVID-19 vaccination/testing requirements for employers
The administration recently developed a new rule requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate proof of vaccination or a weekly negative COVID-19 test as a condition of employment. However, the rule, developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is currently on hold due to legal challenges attempting to block the rule’s implementation. The survey reveals that small businesses are supportive of this rule, and despite most small businesses not being subject to the order, many small employers have already implemented vaccine policies on their own.
Of those small businesses with employees, 42% require all or some of their workers to be vaccinated, and an additional 21% are considering doing so. The majority of small businesses support (56% total support, 45% strongly support) the administration’s rule that would require businesses with 100 or more employees to require coronavirus vaccines and/or regular testing for their workers, compared to just 1 in 3 (33%) who oppose it.
Small businesses hammered by supply chain disruptions
Nearly two years into the pandemic, small businesses are still facing challenges in sustaining their operations. More than 1 in 4 small businesses (26%) may not survive past six months without additional funding or market changes. Thirty-seven percent say their business is on the decline compared to the previous month, and 29% say their business is neither improving nor declining. Small businesses have been overwhelmingly impacted by supply chain disruptions, with only 1 in 4 respondents reporting they have not experienced supply chain issues. Nearly half (47%) report that supply chain issues have forced them to increase prices, 46% report this has limited their ability to acquire new inventory, 40% have been delayed in fulfilling customer orders, and 16% say it has disrupted their holiday sales plans. It’s important to note that these are businesses operating on tight profit margins: 36% of respondents report their household income is less than $50,000.
Small businesses share views on Build Back Better provisions
As the U.S. Senate continues to debate the Build Back Better plan, small businesses express strong support for a key measure that has been central to these discussions: paid family and medical leave. Sixty-five percent of small businesses support a proposal to offer four weeks of paid family and medical leave to anyone to care for a new child or to care for a loved one’s serious illness, or other covered medical leave issues.
Additionally, the vast majority (85%) support a provision to expand the U.S. Small Business Administration’s ability to directly lend to small business owners, something that would facilitate loans to businesses without a strong current banking relationship.
And while retirement benefits were not included in the final Build Back Better plan that passed the U.S. House of Representatives, the survey finds this issue has broad support among small businesses. Only 1 in 4 respondents currently offers a retirement plan, and a majority (57%) support a proposal that would require businesses with five or more employees to offer a retirement plan for their employees. Business owners would receive a tax credit for establishing these plans.