FAQ: SF Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance

    What is the San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance?

    The Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO) provides employees who work in San Francisco with the right to changes to their work, including flexible or predictable schedules, to help with their family caregiving responsibilities, including parenting. The FFWO was originally passed in 2014, but new amendments go into effect on July 12, 2022, providing important rights.

    What kind of changes to my work can I request under the FFWO?

    You can request any workplace changes that would help with your caregiving for your child, a family member with a serious health condition, or a family member aged 65 or over. They can include:

      • A change in the hours you work, including part-time work, part-year employment, or job-sharing;
      • A change in your work schedule, including modified hours, variable hours, or predictable hours;
      • A change in your work location, including telework; or
      • A change in your work assignments or duties.

    For example, a parent may request to start and end work an hour earlier so that she can make daycare drop-off in the morning. Another worker could request two hours off on Friday afternoons so that he can help his elderly mom with medical appointments. Another could ask to be placed on a project that involves fewer evening meetings, so that he can attend his child’s school events.

    Am I covered by the FFWO?

    Employees who work for at least 8 hours per week within San Francisco (including teleworking for a San Francisco employer from elsewhere) and have worked at least 6 months for an employer with 20 or more employees are covered.

    Who counts as a caregiver under the FFWO?

    You are a caregiver if you provide regular and substantial ongoing care to either your child, or to a spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent (that you are related to by blood, marriage, or domestic partnership) who has a serious health condition or is age 65 or older.

    How do I request changes to my work under the FFWO?

    You can either talk with or write to your employer to let them know that you’re interested in a flexible or predictable working arrangement. You should explain when you’d like the changes to start, how long you would like them to continue for, and why you need the change due to your caregiving responsibilities. Your employer can require that you put your request into writing. Make your request at least 21 days before you need the change.

    For example, you could email your employer saying:

    “I would like to request that I not be scheduled from the hours of 5-7am on Wednesdays beginning on 8/20/2022, so that I can take my child to her daycare in the mornings. I would like for this arrangement to continue until 6/20/2023. I am making this request under San Francisco’s Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance.”

    What happens after I request changes to my work under the FFWO?

    Your employer must give you an answer in writing within 21 days of your request. They must either agree to your requested change or work with you to find a different change in work that is acceptable to both of you. They must provide a change to help with your caregiving need unless there is no change that would work for you without causing your employer an undue hardship.

    When can my employer deny a request for changes in my work under the FFWO?

    An employer must provide a change to assist with your caregiving need unless any possible change would cause them “undue hardship.” An undue hardship is a significant cost or operational difficulty. Whether something is a significant cost or difficulty is determined in relation to the size, financial resources, and structure of the employer’s business.

    What do I do if my employer will not agree to a change to my work to help with caregiving?

    If your request is denied and your employer does not provide a change that you need, you can write to your employer within 30 days of the decision to ask that they reconsider it. In response, your employer must arrange a meeting to discuss it with you within 21 days. Within 14 days of the meeting, your employer must respond to you with a final decision in writing. If they still refuse to provide the change that you need, they need to include in their written decision why they think your requested change would cause them an undue hardship. If you disagree with your employer’s decision, you can make a complaint to the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement ((415) 554-6424 or [email protected]).

    Can my employer treat me worse because I make a request under the FFWO?

    No. The FFWO prohibits employers from firing, threatening to fire, demoting, suspending, or taking any negative action against an employee because they are a caregiver or because the employee asked for a change under the FFWO or took actions to try to enforce their rights under the FFWO, including asking for reconsideration or filing a complaint with the OLSE.

    Does it matter if my employer is based outside of San Francisco?

    To be covered, an employer must have a physical business location within the boundaries of San Francisco.

    Am I covered by the FFWO if I “telework”?

    If you telework, meaning you work from home or another non-office space, you are covered by the FFWO if your employer has an office or worksite in San Francisco that you are assigned to. Factors determining where you are assigned may include where your computer, manager, co-workers, or personnel file are located, where you previously worked, and your proximity to the office or worksite.

    Can my employer ask for verification of my caregiving responsibilities?

    Yes. Your employer can require you to verify your caregiving responsibilities before they agree to changes to your work. However, they can request no more information than what is necessary for them to determine whether your request qualifies under the FFWO.

    Can the changes to my work under the FFWO be changed or taken back by my employer?

    The arrangement can be changed if both you and your employer agree on the changes. If your employer feels it is too difficult to continue providing you with your requested change in your work, they are required to work with you to try to find a different arrangement that works for both of you. If you cannot find an arrangement that would not cause your employer an undue hardship, they can withdraw the arrangement as long as they tell you 14 days in advance.

    Who should I contact if I believe my employer has violated the FFWO?

    The Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) investigates possible violations of the FFWO. If you believe your employer has violated the FFWO, you should contact the OLSE at (415) 554-6424.  You can also contact Legal Aid at Work (legalaidatwork.org/wf, (800) 880-8047) to learn more about the FFWO or other workplace rights to accommodations or paid leave.

    Do the 2022 amendments to the FFWO change what my employer is obligated to provide if I request changes in my work?

    Yes. Before, employers only needed to consider an employee’s request but could deny the request by asserting any bona fide business reason.. The 2022 amendments require that employers provide requested changes unless they pose an undue hardship.