Small business owners discuss impacts of paid family and medical leave

Published: Mar. 11, 2023 at 8:34 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Minnesota could soon be the eleventh state to pass a bill for paid family and medical leave, allowing up to 24 weeks of leave, but this opens a larger conversation about how and who will pay for it.

Representative Andy Smith held a roundtable discussion with Rochester small business owners to discuss the impacts paid family and medical leave would have.

As the bill is currently written, costs would be kept low for all by creating a large statewide risk pool and equally sharing costs between employers and employees, with both contributing 35 cents per $100 of an employee’s earning.

Smith said this bill would benefit all Minnesotans by making sure they are protected against life, but some small business owners are worried about the extra costs.

“This is in some ways a tough bill because it is a little bit more of a cost for small businesses,” Smith said.

For businesses with less than 50 employees there will be $30 million allocated in funds to help cover some costs, but owner of Jersey Jo’s, Joe Phillips, said taxing a small business is not going to solve any problems.

“I’m trying to look a little bit further down the road right now we are in a current position where we have a lot of opens where we need workers right, and we find every excuse for why people are not working so I look at this as almost as an excuse to give not to work when we should be telling people come on let’s work together,” Phillips said.

Some owners were for it and said this bill would honor a healthy work life balance, give small businesses a chance at being competitive and expand a struggling workforce.

“Which is why I think most small business owners even the ones who I think are nervous about the extra cost are excited for their employees to be able to have this,” Smith said.

Bud Whitehorn, owner of Whitehorn Reliable Shuttle Services, says this is a step in right direction, but more conversations need to be had.

“How can we uplift the worker and give them the proper help that he needs to become a better worker through emergency situations and also through life circumstances,” Whitehorn said.

The discussion was full of diverse opinions on the bill, some business owners saying they want more paid leave, others worried it would be abused.