As the owner of a small business in Colchester,  I support paid family and medical leave as a critical safety net that will support workers during times of financial insecurity, when their last concern should be missing a paycheck.

I value my employees and I try my best to accommodate any sudden, life-altering circumstance that could harmfully impact their attendance or productivity at work. Every boss wants their employees to be able to give 100 percent to the job at hand, but few understand the barriers that keep working mothers, fathers and caregivers from doing so.

Contrary to the narrative spread by the big business lobby, a new poll shows that 77 percent of small business owners in Connecticut support paid family and medical leave. When respondents learn more about paid leave, including how a range of research has demonstrated its benefits for businesses, support for legislation climbs to 85 percent.

And it’s easy to see why.

My employees are the foundation of my business. They are here day in and day out, helping me to build my dream. In the event of a family or medical emergency, I want to return the favor and support them, but the ongoing costs and expenses of operating a small business often prevent me from doing so to the extent that my employees deserve.

That’s why two bills before the Connecticut General Assembly – S.B 1 and H.B. 6212: An Act Concerning Earned Family and Medical Leave – are so critical to small businesses like mine: it’s entirely employee funded through small payroll deductions and requires little to nothing of business owners.

I understand the concerns of businesses around the state who think they might lose valuable money and time training new employees to replace those out on leave. But think about it – new babies being born, elderly parents falling ill or personal health scares are not new developments in the human condition.  As we speak, employers find ways to manage, because they have to.  Life doesn’t stop.

Study after study has shown that paid family and medical leave is good for business. When workers know they have the ability to take time off from work to welcome a new baby, tend to an ill relative or recover from a personal health scare, they experience greater job satisfaction and are more productive and engaged employees. Paid leave lowers turnover, enhances employee morale and keeps working mothers from exiting the workforce.

It just makes sense: paid family and medical leave grants employers the ability to attract, retain, and support their most valuable employees, all while sparing us the trouble of spending valuable time and energy searching for and training replacements.

Our emplyees support us in the work they do every day. It’s time to return the favor. It’s time for paid family and medical leave.

Todd Szoka is the owner of Sunshine Cycle and Run in Colchester.

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