As a small business owner who employs and serves Maryland residents, I am eager to see the Time to Care Act of 2019 (HB 341/SB 500) enacted. I believe that paid family and medical leave for all workers is not only affordable for businesses but will benefit businesses and, most importantly, is the moral thing to do.
All my employees make at least $15 per hour and receive a full benefits package containing 22 paid days off; health, dental and vision insurance; employer-paid, short-term disability insurance; employer-paid commuting costs; unemployment insurance; and workers’ compensation insurance. All of that is to say that it is indeed possible to run a successful small business that offers a comprehensive compensation package to its employees.
The small additional payroll tax required for a statewide paid leave program would be a minor additional cost that my business could easily absorb. Given that we could afford it with our already generous benefits package, I believe that other businesses around the state could easily afford it as well.
Not only do I believe that businesses around the state can afford this, I believe that they will benefit greatly from the provision of statewide paid leave. In my own business, I have gained greatly by offering the benefits I mentioned.
My employees are happy, hardworking and dependable because our benefits package faces the reality of every-day life – people get sick, get injured and need vacations. By accommodating these facts of life with benefits that recognize them, my employees feel supported. In turn, they offer better service to our customers and stay with the firm longer than I believe they otherwise would.
I’m not alone in my thinking. A few weeks ago I testified before the Senate Finance Committee in support of the Time to Care Act and found myself joined by other small business owners from across the state. As we said then, this legislation would help us to attract and retain the talent we need for our companies to thrive.
In short, the Time to Care Act won’t cost business owners much and will generate positive outcomes for employers, employees and customers. Ultimately, however, I think the strongest argument for paid leave is that it’s the right thing to do.
Too often, we reduce everything to the logic of the market, but this legislation is about so much more than that. Whether or not we use policy to ensure that people can take time off to be with their newborn children or care for a sick relative is, I believe, a moral choice, and I hope that our elected officials make the right choice.
The writer is the owner of Well-Paid Maids, a living-wage, home-cleaning company that operates in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metropolitan areas.