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WASHINGTON – A new nationwide poll of 600 small business owners from the Paid Leave for All Campaign found that about two-thirds (64%) of small businesses owners favored the U.S. having a national policy for paid family and medical leave. Support for paid leave by small business owners is also not a partisan issue, with 80% of Democratic, 55% of Republican, and 52% of Independent owners in favor of a national policy for paid family and medical leave. 

Furthermore, when small business owners hear that allowing sick workers to take paid time off is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID, favorability of paid leave policies jumps to nearly 70%. This increase was seen across party lines as well. 

The poll found that, when forced to choose, small business owners prefer a policy on paid family or medical leave and sick days over liability protections against pandemic-related lawsuits by a 2-to-1 margin. By wide margins, owners agree that workers should have access to longer paid time off to recover from illnesses, and they wish that they could offer more support for caregiving to their employees. 

“As the nation’s economy slowly reopens, small business owners clearly understand the need to protect workers from catching and spreading the virus and giving them time they need to care for loved ones while they are sick,” said Dawn Huckelbridge Director of the Paid Leave for All Campaign. “This poll shows that curbing the spread of the coronavirus is not a partisan issue, it’s common sense. Small business owners understand that if they are to successfully reopen and make up for months of lost revenue, they need to make sure customers feel safe. This means allowing employees that are feeling sick or have been in contact with someone who has the virus the ability to stay home without fear of losing their job.”

“Small businesses benefit when employees can take time to care for their families and return ready to work. Paid leave helps reduce turnover and boost employee morale and loyalty, increasing productivity and cost savings for our small businesses. Especially during a pandemic, it’s clear small businesses need policies that support healthy communities, not corporate immunity that would further tilt the playing field against responsible businesses and hamper the road to recovery,” said Cynthia Ward Wikstrom, Campaigns Director for Main Street Alliance and coordinator of the Small Business for Paid Leave Coalition.

“Supermajorities of workers and small businesses want expanded paid leave in any COVID response—not liability protections for big corporations. Our leaders in the Senate and White House must listen to the people and ensure that paid leave policies are included in the next COVID relief package, if we want to restore our country safely and humanely,” said Huckelbridge.


Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey that was conducted online nationwide between August 31 – September 16, 2020. The survey reached a total of 600 small business owners with oversamples of 100 Black small business owners, and 100 Latinx or Asian American or Pacific Islander small business owners. It was commissioned by Paid Leave for All in partnership with Main Street Alliance.
The sample was drawn from an online panel of small business owners and respondents were screened to be the current owner of a small business in the United States, who operates and makes decisions for the business, operates a for profit business, and employs 0-49 employees including themselves and excluding contractors, with a  cap of 25% of respondents who employed 1 person before the pandemic and currently employ 1 person.
To ensure the data reflects attributes of the actual population of small business owners in the U.S., the base sample was weighted by gender, region, age, race, and number of employees prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sample of Black small business owners was weighted by gender and age. The sample of Latinx and Asian American Pacific Islander small business owners was weighted by gender, region, race, and number of employees prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The overall margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 4.0.

The Paid Leave for All campaign is a growing collaborative of organizations fighting for paid family and medical leave for all working people. 

For more information on the Paid Leave for All campaign, visit