How Does Maternity Leave Impact Small Businesses?

The idea of maternity leave is a very good one for many Americans: It gives them time to get acquainted with their babies and adjust to their new lives. But at the same time, many in the small business sector feel as though it can be problematic because they lose one of what’s likely to be just a few employees, for months at a time. Thus, this can be a tricky situation for many entrepreneurs to navigate.

While maternity leave is, of course, legally mandated at 12 weeks – unpaid – the federal law also makes sure to exempt all companies with fewer than 50 employees from this requirement, according to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek. And because so many Americans work for companies of this size, that means that as many as tens of millions of people across the country are not afforded that type of protection.

Obviously, many companies continue to pay their employees even when they go on maternity leave, despite the fact that they are not legally required to do so, and thus the practice creates a bit of a sticky wicket for smaller businesses, the report said. But new data suggests that small businesses which do not offer that paid leave are actually hurting themselves.

Why is this the case?
The fact of the matter is that paid maternity leave actually doesn’t cost nearly as much as employers tend to think, and also allows workers to be happier and more productive, the report said. For instance, if a person who is about to have a baby doesn’t have access to paid leave, they might simply leave their jobs altogether, leading the employer to have to hire someone new, which in and of itself can cost more than the amount they would have paid for that leave in the first place.

For these reasons, experts say that it might be wise for entrepreneurs worried about this kind of issue to sit down and do the math, the report said. They might find that the impact won’t nearly be as big as they think, and this may help them to come up with ways to cover the lengthy absence of a key worker to minimize the problems.

Owners might also want to take the time to look into ways of cutting other costs to make these easier to bear. That could include finding more affordable small business insurance policies, such as liability insurance, which could potentially save thousands.