San Francisco is now the First City in the Nation to Grant Working Families the Right to Workplace Accommodations to Help with Family Caregiving and Childcare

A mother and two children lying on the floor smiling at each other.

When Mariana asked her large fast food restaurant employer for a slight adjustment to her schedule so that she could pick up and drop off her child at a subsidized daycare, her employer said no. As a result, Mariana had to give up her child’s spot and Mariana ended up spending almost half of her income on a babysitter. Now workers in San Francisco will no longer have to make these impossible choices.

On March 14, 2022, Mayor London Breed signed Supervisor Connie Chan’s Amendments to the San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance. These Amendments built on eight years of experience and lessons gathered from the original ordinance, authored by then-Supervisor David Chiu, to better empower workers to care for their families without sacrificing their economic stability. The Amendments go into effect on July 12, 2022.

Research shows that it is disproportionately women, and women of color, who are primarily responsible for family caregiving. Legal Aid at Work has spoken with mothers who have lost their jobs, been forced to switch careers, or had to forgo subsidized child care opportunities because their employers would not work with them or let them adjust their schedules by even one hour. We’ve also spoken with dads who have faced skepticism or discrimination when they sought changes to their work or brief time off to care for their children. And in San Francisco, more and more aging adults are in need of occasional care to help with medical appointments or meeting other basic needs. COVID-19 only magnified these issues, forcing many working caregivers, often women, from the workplace and making it next to impossible for so many to re-enter it. “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.”

Under the newly amended SF FFWO, workers can request changes to the time, place, or way that they do their work to assist with family caregiving obligations. Employers are required to then either grant those requests or engage in a good faith process to identify other work modifications that will help the employee meet their family caregiving needs. Employers may only deny requests after engaging in the good faith interactive process and determining that there are no possible accommodations that can meet the employee’s need without causing the employer an undue hardship. Undue hardship is considered in relation to the employer’s size, resources, and structure. Employees will qualify if they regularly work at least 8 hours per week within the city or teleworking for their SF employer, have worked for their employer for at least 6 months, and have an employer with 20 or more employees.

For more information, check out Legal Aid at Work’s Frequently Asked Questions: the San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance or the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement’s webpage. If you have individual questions about your rights or how to make a request under the FFWO, you can call our Work and Family Helpline at 800-880-8047.

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