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Small Business Digest


Mini-Brief about the Small Business Perspective on Work-Family Issues

Across the country, new state legislative sessions have begun, many with a focus on supporting working families. 

While many constituents welcome these efforts, small businesses are one group that has traditionally opposed these proposals.

To help state policy makers better understand the small business perspective on work-family legislative mandates, the Sloan Work and Family Research Network (Sloan Network) at Boston College has released a new research mini-brief, entitled Work-Family Information on Small Businesses. 

The mini-brief summarizes the small business viewpoint on work-family legislation, including paid sick days and paid family leave, underscoring both the concerns of and benefits to small businesses.  The mini-brief also provides statistics, suggested readings, and websites with more information.

For those interested in delving deeper into how small businesses tackle work-family matters, the Sloan Network has recently compiled a topic page on Small Business and Work-Family.  There, you will find definitions, reports, and links to other websites; there is also an interview with small business expert Bruce Phillips.

“Small businesses are often lumped together with all businesses, and their unique strengths and limitations are not commonly recognized,” commented Julie Schwartz Weber, author of the mini-brief and Policy Specialist at the Sloan Network.  “With 80% of all U.S. businesses having 20 or fewer employees, it is vital that legislators and advocates have a clear picture of how small businesses approach work and family issues.  These new resources on small businesses are intended to provide that perspective.”

As the Sloan Network indicates in their brief, small businesses may well benefit from providing such work-family policies.  Benefits may include: enhanced retention and recruitment, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, improved employee morale, and establishing a greater competitive edge with other organizations.

“In this new legislative session, work-family legislation on paid sick days and paid family leave is being filed across the states and in Washington, D.C.  While working families overwhelmingly support these measures, the pressures these laws may place on small businesses need to be understood better.  According to small business advocates, paid sick days legislation and family leave legislation should carve out small businesses where they have fewer monetary and staff resources than large businesses.  In addition, being forced to comply with such laws can result in increased labor or management costs, lower work quality, or even require the cutting of jobs.  Interestingly, most small businesses do generally provide their employees with paid sick days or family leave, but on an informal basis.  When offering such programs, small businesses may well reap benefits, including enhanced retention and recruitment, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.”

The newly released policy brief, Work-Family Information on Small Businesses, can be viewed at

For more information on work-family policy matters, visit the Sloan Network website at

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