NEW YORK – Within three months, one of MacLaren Cummings’ staffers passed away from cancer and then both his own mother and the mother of an employee were diagnosed with breast cancer. Although he was the CEO, Cummings says, “the last thing I could think about was work.”
That painful stretch in 2011 planted the seeds for a paid family leave policy at Terakeet, his internet marketing company based in Syracuse, N.Y.
“It changed my perspective on work/life balance and the importance of people being able to have time to spend with families and loved ones and not worry about a paycheck,” Cummings says.
Paid time off to care for ill family members is a benefit many employees wish for, but it’s hard to come by – especially at very small companies with limited financial resources. But a quarter-century after the Family and Medical Leave Act gave employees at larger businesses up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for their medical needs or those of family members, a growing movement aims to help staffers at small businesses get paid leave.