San Francisco remains at the forefront of COVID-19 related relief to those employees who work within the City and County limits. Recently, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has continued this effort and passed the Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance (PHELO). PHELO is an emergency ordinance set to temporarily require private employers with 500 or more employees to provide public health emergency leave during the public health emergency related to COVID-19.
PHELO was passed to address the emergency paid leave coverage gap created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) by extending paid leave to employees within the City who are not covered by the FFCRA.
The Board of Supervisors amended PHELO on April 14, 2020, before it was finalized by the mayor’s office. Under the amended version, most workers who have performed work within San Francisco are covered. A San Francisco worker who was considered a full-time employee as of February 25, 2020, will be provided 80 hours of Paid Sick Leave and an employee who was a part-time as of February 25, 2020, will be provided the number of hours “equal to the average number of hours over a two-week period that the Employee was scheduled over the previous six months ending on February 25, 2020.”
The Board also expanded leave to those individuals classified as a member of a “vulnerable population” per Order No. C19-05, or any order issued by Bay Area jurisdictions recommending or requiring additional restrictions for vulnerable or high-risk populations. Further, the amendment clarifies that this Emergency Leave is 80 hours of additional leave beyond what an employer’s policies provide under either vacation or sick leave. However, the amendment provides an offset if, on or after February 25, 2020, an employer provided paid time off for COVID-19 outside of their normal leave policies. Finally, the amendments limit the ability of health care providers (such as doctors and certified nurse practitioners) and emergency responders to use this emergency leave (as opposed to prohibiting their use entirely, as suggested by prior versions.)
PHELO expires on the 61st date upon enactment, or on the day the SF mayor declares the end of the public health emergency, whichever comes first.
PHELO is presently pending approval from San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who has until April 24, 2020, to sign the emergency ordinance for it to become law.