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Opinion: When you treat your employees like family, paid family leave is a necessity

Over the 10 years I’ve owned Gary’s Auto Service, I’ve learned that the hardest thing to do is to find good employees and then hold on to them. Any business owner will tell you this.

I run a small shop, there’s only five of us here, so I need to know that my workers are dependable, skilled and dedicated to my business. My employees are my most important asset and I must be prepared that sometimes, just like all of us, they will need time to be there for their families.

That’s why I support paid family and medical leave for all Colorado workers, so they don’t have to choose between paying their rent or being with their loved ones. 

Dan Shannon

I strongly support Proposition 118, which would give more than 2.6 million Coloradans access to paid leave so they could recover from a long-term illness, take care of their loved ones when they need it most, or bond with their newborns.

It would also help small businesses like mine compete for workers by offering good, affordable benefits to better attract and retain skilled employees. 

I’ve seen first-hand how beneficial paid leave is when two of my sons had their own children in the past year. Both my sons and their wives had paid time off to bond with their new babies, and I could see their families be stronger for it.

I’ve also experienced it as an employer, when I’ve paid out-of-pocket for some of my employees who needed time off to be with their loved ones. I don’t have a third-party insurance policy for this, but I do it anyway because holding onto the employees I trust is that important to me. What’s good for my employees is good for me in the long run. 

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The men who work for me all have families, children, and sometimes things happen and they need the time off. Proposition 118 will allow them to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off, so they can care for themselves, a seriously ill loved one, or a newborn, without the worry of losing a paycheck or even a job.

It also offers all businesses in Colorado access to a low-cost insurance option. And small businesses like mine, with nine or fewer employees, are exempt from paying the premiums altogether, while my employees still have access to the benefit. 

People who worry about the cost of this insurance program, forget to factor in the long-term benefits of investing in your workers. To succeed in auto repair, you must work really hard, both physically and mentally, and if you find an employee who is the right fit, you want them to feel satisfied in their job so they stay with you.

I invest time and money in my employees by training them and treating them with dignity, and they repay me with dedication to their job and loyalty to my business.

My employees are not expendable, and I want to help them feel valued at work. One way to do that is to offer benefits like paid leave, so they can put their families first in times of emergency, without worrying about losing a paycheck. 

I’m proud to support Proposition 118 for my business and my employees, because it will give me access to a low-cost, high-benefit program that will help me keep my guys while making sure they know they won’t have to choose between paying bills and being there for their families. I hope Coloradans join me in November to pass Proposition 118. 


Dan Shannon is the owner of Gary’s Auto Service since 2010 and previously was a lawyer for the health care industry. 


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