(COLORADO SPRINGS) — From inflation to an increase in the minimum wage, small businesses have had a difficult few years.

Spice Island Grill, a restaurant that served up authentic and exotic Jamaican cuisine to the Colorado Springs community for 12 years, officially closed its doors on Jan. 28.

“It was a hard decision because we have so many really, really good loyal customers,” said co-owner Claudette Hutchinson.

On Jan. 1, some new laws took effect, which included the Family Act, or the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act.

“It’s kind of like FMLA meets unemployment,” said Reanna Werner, Chief Problem Solver for HR Branches. “What the state is doing is they are collecting payroll deductions. It’s a split 50-50 contribution between the employer and the employee.”

The Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC said this is so that any employee can take leave from work for up to 12 to 16 weeks.

“It’s for various purposes including sickness of the employee, sickness of an immediate family member… other medical care and things,” said David Dazlich, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Colorado Springs Chamber.

This law is now required of businesses with over nine employees.

“Come January 2024, employers can apply for an exemption if they offer a program that’s similar or better than what the state… will be providing at that time,” Werner said.

Before, extended medical leave came out of employees’ pockets.

“This alleviates that additional pressure off of our workforce. So, when our workforce is healthy, our businesses are healthy,” Werner said.

However, Hutchinson and several other small business owners said this is not a viable option.

“I saw the paperwork up in the mail and I pretty much ignored it because I’m like, this is not going to happen,” Hutchinson said. “We tried to do this before all this… and even the employees did not want to.”

For business owners struggling to make ends meet, experts directed business owners to the US Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Whether it’s legislation you’re talking about,” said Aikta Marcoulier, Region VIII Administrator for the SBA, “or whether it’s an emergency situation or disaster relief, there’s always a resource partner on the ground able to help you. And the most important as well, it’s free.”

Experts said in the meantime, it is still more important than ever to continue to shop local and support small businesses.