Ah, San Francisco — the Bridge! Golden Gate Park! The chocolate! The fog! . . . the ordinances!?  In recent years, our favorite City by the Bay has adopted a number of employee-friendly ordinances that can catch the unwary employer.  In addition to the new “Ban the Box” Ordinance discussed here, San Francisco has a number of additional city ordinances regulating employers.  These ordinances include the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance; the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance; the Health Care Security Ordinance; and the Minimum Wage Ordinance.  Navigating these ordinances can be tricky not only for employers located in San Francisco, but for employers who have employees who spend more than 8 hours a week working in San Francisco.

San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance

As mentioned in previous Cal-Pecs blogs, here and here, effective January 1, 2014 San Francisco has implemented a new Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance.  This ordinance allows employees to request flexible or predictable work arrangements to allow the employee to assist with caregiving responsibilities for a child, a family member with a serious health condition, or a parent age 65 or older.

This ordinance applies to employers who regularly employ 20 or more employees,regardless of location.  Employees are covered if they have been employed for six months and regularly work at least 8 hours per week in San Francisco.  Employees may request accommodations such as a reduced schedule, a change in scheduled work times, working from home or telecommuting.

Employers are required to meet with the employee within 21 days of the request and respond in writing to the employee within 21 days of the meeting.  Employers may deny the employee’s request for bona fide business reasons such as identifiable costs, detrimental impact on ability to meet customer demands, or insufficient work during the proposed schedule.  If an employee’s request is denied, employers must notify the employee of the right to request reconsideration and meet with the employee again and issue a final decision.

The ordinance also requires that employers post a notice in English, Spanish, Chinese and any other language spoken by at least 5% of employees.  The notice can be found here. Retaliation for exercising the rights protected under the ordinance is also expressly prohibited.

Employers looking for additional information can go to San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement website at www.sfgov.org/olse/ffwo.

San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

The San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance requires all San Francisco employers to provide paid sick leave for employees who have worked for more than 90 days and regularly work at least 8 hours per week in San Francisco.

  • Qualifying employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
  • For employers with less than 10 employees, there is a cap of 40 hours of accrued paid sick leave.
  • For all other employers there is a cap of 72 hours of accrued paid sick leave.

Leave accrues in full hour increments, not in fractions of an hour.  These caps are overall caps and not annual caps; however, accrued paid sick leave totals do carry over year-to-year.

Employees may use sick leave for themselves or to aid or care for a family member or a designated individual who is ill, injured or for the purpose of receiving medical care, treatment or diagnosis.   Employers should note that employees can designate individuals other than a spouse or domestic partner for whom the employee may use paid sick leave to provide aid or care.  This designation must be on file with the employer before the employee may use sick leave.  Employers must offer employees the opportunity to make a designation no later than 30 work hours after the date paid sick leave begins to accrue.  Additional information can be found on San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement website at www.sfgov.org/olse/pslo.

San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance

The San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance requires businesses with over 20 employees and non-profits with over 50 employees (both regardless of location) to make minimum health care expenditures on behalf of all covered employees.  Employees who have worked for more than 90 calendar days and work at least 8 hours per week in San Francisco are covered.  Certain categories of employees are exempt from this requirement including managers, supervisors or confidential employees earning more than $88,212 per year, employees who waive the entitlement and employees who are covered by Medicare, among others.

Employers may satisfy this requirement by making:

  • Payments for health insurance
  • Payments to a health care provider
  • Payments to the “City Option”  (The City Option allows employers to deposit money with the City on behalf of employees.  Employees may receive a discount on Healthy San Francisco program participation or receive reimbursement for eligible health care expense from a Medical Reimbursement Account.)
  • Contributions to a reimbursement program

Payments vary depending on employer size.  In 2014, businesses with 20-99 employees and non-profits with 50-99 employees are required to pay $1.63/ hour paid.  Employers with over 100 employees are required to pay $2.33 per hour.

Again, a notice requirement is included in the ordinance.  Additionally, employers are required to maintain records sufficient to prove compliance and are required to submit an Annual Reporting Form to San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement by April 30 of each year.  Additional information can be found on San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement website at www.sfgov.org/olse/hcso.

San Francisco Minimum Wage Ordinance

Each year, under the San Francisco Minimum Wage Ordinance, San Francisco adjusts the minimum wage based on increases in the regional consumer price index.  Effective January 1, 2014 San Francisco’s minimum wage is $10.74/ hour.  All employers, regardless of location, must pay their employees who  perform work in San Francisco the San Francisco minimum wage.  Employers must also post a notice.  The required notice can be found here.

For those employers who operate in San Francisco, or have employees working more than 8 hours a week in San Francisco, regularly reviewing policies and postings to ensure compliance with the latest and greatest San Francisco ordinances is a must.