This Saturday is Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate and support local employers that are critical to our economy. Small businesses create two out of every three new private sector jobs in our country and employ almost half of the American labor force.
Last week, I was proud to show my support for two small Chicago businesses, Honey Butter Fried Chicken and KOVAL Distillery. Not only do these employers produce great products, they also understand that family-friendly policies are beneficial for their employees and for their bottom line.
Policies such as paid sick leave and paid family leave allow employees to balance the demands of work and home, while helping businesses reduce worker turnover and increase their productivity. These policies are pro-family and pro-business.
For Honey Butter Fried Chicken co-owners Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp, creating a nurturing environment for all 37 employees is a top priority. That is why the restaurant offers full-time employees up to 10 days of paid time off per year and recently instituted a paid family leave policy. Cikowski and Kulp start their employees off on the right foot from Day One with two full days of paid sick time in the bank. “Workers coming to work sick and making food is a public health problem,” Cikowski said. “This should be the standard, not the exception.”
Sonat Birnecker Hart, president of organic whiskey producer KOVAL Distillery, offers employees an unlimited number of paid sick days. “If you are sick or your children are sick, your place is at home. That is our policy,” she said. She also offers employees two weeks of paid parental leave. Matt McClain was able to spend time with his new baby, thanks to KOVAL’s family-friendly policies. “Being offered two weeks paid leave when my daughter was born lifted a huge weight off my shoulders,” McClain said.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken and KOVAL Distillery know that having paid leave policies is simply good business practice. Other small businesses that want to follow their lead can find helpful tips and ideas in the Workplace Flexibility Toolkit that the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau released last month.
The department is committed to expanding policies that support working families, such as paid family leave and paid sick leave, to more American workers, and in December we will be highlighting more small businesses that are leading the way. This holiday season, we encourage you to consider shopping at small businesses in your community that are doing good and doing well.
Chris Lu is the deputy secretary of labor.