New San Francisco Ordinance Tries for Family Friendly Workplaces

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In unique legislation intended to fight the flight of families from San Francisco workplaces, the city enacted an ordinance to give qualified workers the right to request flexible working arrangements.

The measure was introduced in June by San Francisco Supervisor David Chu, who explained the thinking behind the ordinance in a legislative fact sheet supporting the proposed legislature:

  • Mr. Chu cites concern for exodus of families in general, and families of color in particular, from San Francisco and notes San Francisco is home to the lowest number of children in any major city in the United States.
  • Explaining the changing face and responsibilities of the workforce, Mr. Chu notes the need for more flexible policies for multitasking parents and family members attempting to juggle meaningful employment with a productive, safe and meaningful family life.
  • New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia have adopted successful policies that enable parents and workers to request flexible working arrangements.

The ordinance was approved and takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. Features of the ordinance include:

  • The ordinance applies to employers of 20 or more full- or part-time employees.
  • Employees working for an employer within city limits who are employed for at least six months and work at least eight hours a week are entitled to make a request for flexible work arrangements.
  • An employer must meet with an employee requesting a flexible working arrangement within 21 days of their request and provide a written response within 21 days.
  • The employer can deny the request for legitimate business reasons and notify the employee of his or her right to ask for reconsideration.

These new developments are likely to be watched by employers and other municipalities.