Main Street Can’t Afford Mandatory Paid Leave

For small businesses, few things matter more than a level playing field and a strong workforce. The West Michigan Policy Forum agrees with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that Michigan should make progress toward these important goals. Unfortunately, her plan for mandatory paid leave would push them further out of reach, hurting Main Street and working families.

Gov. Whitmer called for mandatory paid leave while announcing her fall priorities. The legislation she supports would require all companies – regardless of size – to offer paid leave to their employees, with no exemption for small businesses. The legislation also fails to distinguish between part-time and full-time employees. These shortcomings make the legislation a guaranteed loser for small businesses.

Small businesses are just that – small. They only employ a handful of people, making it incredibly difficult to rearrange work schedules when someone goes on an extended leave. Many if not most of these job creators don’t have enough employees to make it work. While every small business makes a heroic effort to help employees going through difficult situations, one-size-fits-all mandates go too far. Big businesses can deal with them; small businesses can’t.

What will happen if mandatory paid leave goes into effect? The National Federation of Independent Business has the answer: “Asking small businesses to do something they can’t do doesn’t make them more competitive — it puts them out of business.” This policy will shut stores down Main Streets across Michigan.

But small businesses aren’t the only ones who will suffer. This mandate plan would also hike taxes on families. Job creators would be hit with a new payroll tax, half of which they could take from workers’ paychecks. That would eliminate most of the tax cut the governor recently passed for seniors and low-income residents while leaving working families with less money in their pockets.

That’s a double whammy for Michigan: Fewer small businesses creating jobs, and more families paying higher taxes.

Main Street can’t afford mandatory paid leave, especially after years of sky-high inflation, worker shortages, and supply chain difficulties. The governor and state Legislature should look for ways that actually level the playing field and make it easier to hire and keep workers.

Please call your legislator and tell them to protect small businesses and working families. Michigan needs a stronger Main Street, not another harmful one-size-fits-all mandate.