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Family Matters

Could giving employees paid family leave actually leave your company stronger?

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This story appears in the May 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Marie C. Wilson is the president of the Ms. Foundation for Women, which aims to improve the lot and lives of girls and women. But don't let it be said that Wilson isn't looking out for the "Mister," too. The Ms. Foundation (www.msfoundation.org) changed its famous Take Our Daughters to Work Day last month to Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, because they hope to mold the minds of boys as well. But Wilson's commitment to family in the workplace doesn't end there: She's a proponent of the controversial idea of paid family leave. At least 27 states are considering passing it into law, and it's due to become a reality in California in July 2004: After up to two weeks' vacation has been used, an employee can take up to six weeks of paid leave, at 50 to 60 percent salary, to care for a family member, be it a parent or a newborn. Although employees will be paid from a self-funded account (similar to disability benefits), not every entrepreneur is thrilled. We asked Wilson why they should be.

Most entrepreneurs probably say "Nice plan, but there's no way I can afford to give employees so much time off." How is this a good deal for the entrepreneur?

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