San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Expanded Due To COVID-19

Weintraub Tobin
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This week, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced a “Workers and Families First Program” to offer additional paid sick leave benefits to employees who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  It will apply to San Francisco private sector workers, and if fully utilized, it could provide coverage for up to 25,000 San Francisco workers.  Fortunately for already-struggling businesses, the Program is not compulsory.  In addition, the Program will set aside $10 million in public funding to help offset the burden on who have to provide an additional five days of sick leave pay to workers, beyond their existing policies under SFPLO and state law.

According to the Mayor’s press release, “The Workers and Families First Program will provide City financial assistance to businesses and nonprofits to provide additional paid sick leave time to employees, over and above their existing policies. All San Francisco businesses will be eligible, with up to 20% of funds reserved for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The City will contribute up to one week (40 hours) at $15.59 per hour (minimum wage) per employee, or $623 per employee. The employer will pay the difference between the minimum wage and an employee’s full hourly wage.”

So, employers who are financially able to do so can offer up to five additional days of paid sick leave, which would be paid at the employee’s regular rate by the employer, and offset by the City’s contributions of $15.59 per hour, or $623 per employee.  For employers with workforces primarily comprised of minimum wage workers, the program should be cost-free, but it remains to be seen how quickly the program will be implemented and how long it will take to receive reimbursement.

Applications are expected to be available later this week at the Office of Economic and Workforce Development website under the Coronavirus COVID-19 guidance (https://oewd.org/assistance-guidance-businesses-and-workers-impacted-covid-19#Paid%20Sick%20Leave%20-%20Employers).

The program will be available to virtually all San Francisco workers given the shelter-in-place order implemented today, pursuant to San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance and the March 9, 2020 guidance issued by San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE), as will be able to be used when employees are:

  • Sick,
  • Self-quarantined to prevent spread,
  • Caring for a sick family member,
  • Home because of a temporary work closure in response to a public official’s recommendation, or
  • Caring for a child who is home because of school/daycare closures in response to a public official’s recommendation.

On a related note, the Mayor also announced that the City is taking steps to support small businesses including “deferring business taxes and licensing fees, launching a relief fund for impacted businesses, supporting nonprofits funded by the City so workers don’t lose their incomes, working with partners in the philanthropic and private sector, and advocating for state and federal support for workers and businesses. This includes the www.Give2SF.org fund, where donations can be made to support both small businesses and individuals impacted by coronavirus. The City launched a website to serve as a one-stop shop for all resources, contacts, and updates for small businesses: www.oewd.org/covid19.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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