SF Board of Supervisors Unanimously Expands Rights to Flexible Work Scheduling for Working Families

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Frances Hsieh - Senior Policy Analyst, City and County of San Francisco
(415) 596-2796
[email protected]
Katie Wutchiett - Staff Attorney, Legal Aid at Work
(415) 593-0064
[email protected]

SAN FRANCISCO — Today on International Women’s Day, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously supported Supervisor Connie Chan’s legislation to expand the ability of workers to demand flexible workplace scheduling in order to balance their caregiving responsibilities.

“This legislation is especially crucial to ensure an equitable recovery that balances the needs of both our workers and our employers,” said Supervisor Chan, “This is a moment for a paradigm shift as we need to create a sustainable workplace that is truly family friendly for San Francisco.”

“I am so thrilled that this legislation passed on International Women’s Day! While women are not the only caregivers, we are often reminded of the gender inequities of balancing work and caregiving. This ordinance codifies what employers are already doing to pivot towards flexibility so that we are able to sustain jobs and retain a diverse workforce that supports the needs of parents and other caregivers,” stated Supervisor Melgar

Key features of the updated policy include:

  • Establishing a fair process for employees to work with employers in developing work arrangements to help with family caregiving
  • Requiring employers to grant requests for modified work arrangements needed for family caregiving, including flexible or predictable scheduling, except in cases of undue hardship
  • Extending these same rights to teleworking employees
  • Expanding definition of care to include elderly family members other than parents
  • Establishing penalties for violations to cover the cost of care
  • Exempting small businesses with fewer than 20 employees
  • Prioritizing outreach and education resources to help both workers and employers

While San Francisco has long understood that flexible workplace scheduling leads to greater worker productivity and satisfaction, more businesses are recognizing the positive impact for worker recruitment and retention, increased cost savings, and reduced absenteeism. Low-income workers and workers of color experience these positive effects even more strongly than higher wage earners.

“We’ve heard from working parents who have been forced out of their job or forced to forgo subsidized child care because their employer refused to let them adjust their schedule by even thirty minutes. These amendments recognize the importance of parents and family caregivers, by giving them the opportunity to collaborate with their employer to find accommodations that work for both sides.” said Katherine Wutchiett, Staff Attorney for the Work and Family Program at Legal Aid at Work.

“Passing this law is a win-win for our city! As an immigrant parent, I think about all the time in the past when I wouldn’t dare to ask my boss for a flexible schedule for when my daughter feels under the weather or has a field trip, and now I regret missing those opportunities. The passing of this updated policy today means more caregivers, especially women who oftentime are the main caregivers, can better balance between spending time with family and going to work, having more incentives to stay at a job that offers her flexibility. An employer and an employee is interdependent and we can only be successful when both are well. I look forward to seeing the city do extensive outreach so workers know their rights and bosses can implement this law,” said Yu Lian Luo, a worker member and Senior SRO organizer with Chinese Progressive Association.

“Working women often bear the responsibility of both their regular work and caregiving, and women of color are more likely to work in lower-paying jobs with less access to child care,” said Supervisor Ronen. “I’m thrilled that this update to the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance will help balance the playing field so working families of all income levels in San Francisco can thrive without having to choose between their jobs and their family’s health and well-being.”

The legislation was heard in the Youth, Young Adult and Families Committee in February and received a unanimous recommendation of support. It was first heard by the full Board of Supervisors at its March 1st meeting. The legislation is cosponsored by Supervisors Myrna Melgar, Hillary Ronen, Ahsha Safai, Aaron Peskin, Dean Preston, Gordon Mar, and Board President Shamann Walton.

After today’s final unanimous vote in support, Mayor London Breed has up to 10 days to affirm, return unsigned, or veto the legislation. The ordinance becomes effective 30 days days after either receiving the Mayor’s signature or a lapse of the 10-day period. The Office of Labor Standards Enforcement then has up to 90 days after the effective date to enact the legislation.

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Legal Aid at Work is a nonprofit legal services organization located in San Francisco. Legal Aid at Work’s Work and Family Program empowers workers who are parents, pregnant, family caregivers, or caring for their own health to access time off from work, paid leave, and other workplace accommodations through free legal advice, direct representation, and advocacy for systems change, in partnership with families, healthcare and social service providers, and government agencies.

The Chinese Progressive Association is a member of the Progressive Workers Alliance, an alliance of San Francisco low-wage worker organizations that brings together low-wage workers across race, ethnicity, language, and sector.

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