Most employees in San Francisco are about to enjoy greater family care flextime rights than any other city in California.

The San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, approved last week by the Board of Supervisors and signed by the mayor on October 14, 2013, permits employees to request “flexible or predictable working arrangements” so they can assist with care giving responsibilities.  Employers must review and respond to such requests in a defined formal way.

Here are the basics.  The law:

  • is effective January 1, 2014.
  • applies to employers of 20 or more employees, including full-time and part-time employees.
  • grants an employee who works within the City limits and who has worked for 6 months or more and regularly works at least 8 hours per week the right to request a flexible working arrangement when needed to assist:
  • with child care
  • a family member with a serious health condition, or
  • a parent age 65 or older.
  • requires the employer to meet with the employee within 21 days of the request, and respond in writing within 21 days of the meeting. 
  • allows the employer to deny the request for bona fide business reasons,such as identifiable costs, inability to meet customer demands, and insufficiency of work to give the employee during the period of proposed work.  Any denial must explain in detail the business reasons, and also inform the employee of the right to request reconsideration.

Flextime arrangements may include modified work schedules, job sharing, changes in start and end times, working from home and telecommuting.

Retaliation for requesting a flexible arrangement is expressly prohibited, and notice and posting requirements are specified.  The requirements of the law can be waived in a valid collective bargaining agreement.  To read the text of the Ordinance, click here.

Workplace Solution:  Anyone with employees in San Francisco should become familiar with this new law and the required procedures.  The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement is supposed to publish the form of required Notice before January 1, so we will be on the lookout for that.  Meanwhile, be aware that starting next year, your staffing requirements will likely be affected by yet another unpredictable wrinkle.