The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Nicole Randle:,

Small Businesses and Paid Leave Advocates Urge Congress to Take Action on Paid Family and Medical Leave

Organizations representing hundreds of thousands of small business owners have


Organizations representing hundreds of thousands of small business owners have signed on to a letter urging Congress to guarantee paid family and medical leave for all small businesses and their employees in the United States. Several of the signatory organizations, as well as three small business owners, joined U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Sharice Davids (D-KS) for a webinar to discuss this urgent need.

With the unprecedented health threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners are calling for a sustainable paid leave foundation to support their efforts to maintain safe workplaces and public spaces. More than 30 million small businesses employ almost half of the country's private sector workforce, but face immense threats amid the health crisis and plummeting consumer spending.

The letter, delivered to Congressional offices on Thursday, calls on lawmakers to strengthen paid leave provisions that will allow small business owners and workers to take time off from work to care for themselves and/or their loved ones. This will help to suppress the spread of the virus and provide stability for business owners who are now dealing with immense uncertainty.

"There is a clear and direct link between public health, small business viability, and a strong economy," said Amanda Ballantyne, Executive Director of Main Street Alliance, a lead partner organization of Small Business for Paid Leave, a coalition of grassroots and small business membership organizations working in partnership with Paid Leave for All to advocate for paid family and medical leave policy. "Business owners are doing everything they can to stay afloat and protect the health and safety of their employees and customers during these times, but Congress must step in to ensure equal access to paid leave becomes a foundation in our economy."

"The lack of a federal leave program while our nation faces the COVID-19 pandemic disadvantages small businesses relative to big business while also disproportionately impacting women and business owners of color," said Erika Moritsugu, Vice President for the National Partnership for Women & Families, an organization that has been fighting for and defending the rights of women in the workforce for nearly 50 years. "Congress must take immediate steps to both fill the gaps in paid sick and paid leave, and establish permanent structures to provide all working people with the resources they need when they need it."

The groups are asking Congress to pass the HEROES Act which would cover more businesses and employees by ending harmful exemptions. They are also urging Congress to make paid leave easier to use and more available for a broader range of reasons, and to extend the program and its funding for the duration of the pandemic. The letter also asks lawmakers to pass legislation, such as the FAMILY Act, to create a permanent national paid leave social insurance program for small businesses and working families.

Comprehensive paid leave is overwhelmingly supported by 84 percent of the public and 70 percent small business owners. In a June 2020 survey of Main Street Alliance members, the number one concern cited during the pandemic was keeping their employees and customers healthy, even over low sales. More than 1,400 small business owners nationwide added their names to state and federal campaigns calling for comprehensive paid leave.

The webinar with paid leave advocates, small business owners, Senator Duckworth, and Representative Davids is available here.

Small Business for Paid Leave is a coalition of grassroots and small business membership organizations that shares resources and supports small businesses as they engage in paid family and medical leave policy development. Small Business for Paid Leave works in partnership with Paid Leave for All and advocates across the country.