San Francisco— First City in California to Announce It Will Provide Paid Sick Leave Benefits for Employees Affected by COVID-19—Others Will Likely Follow
San Francisco— First City in California to Announce It Will Provide Paid Sick Leave Benefits for Employees Affected by COVID-19—Others Will Likely Follow

With the rapid spread of the pandemic—COVID-19, employees have been sent home due to business closures, factory shutdowns, temporary lay-offs, and forced quarantines.  Other employees remain home due to their own illness, to care for someone who has fallen ill, or to care for children who can no longer attend school.  Amongst the chaos, many employees are scrambling to survive to pay rent, monthly bills and other expenses without any source of income.

San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced that San Francisco would provide an additional five (5) days of paid sick leave benefits for employees affected by COVID-19.  This program is only available if the following conditions are met: (1) the employee has exhausted their currently available sick leave; (2) the employee has exhausted or is not eligible for federal or state supplemental sick leave; and (3) the employer agrees to extend sick leave beyond their existing policy benefits.

The San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OSLE) recently issued guidance pursuant to San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.  According to the guidance, paid sick leave is available when employees are:

  • Sick,
  • Self-quarantined- any person potentially exposed, over the age of 60 or with underlying health conditions.
  • 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.

The City will contribute up to one workweek – 40 hours – at $15.59 per hour per employee, or $623 per employee, and the employer will pay the difference between the $15.59 minimum wage and the employee’s normal hourly rate.  All San Francisco businesses will be eligible to receive the funds, with up to 20 percent of funds reserved for businesses with 50 or fewer workers.

The San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance requires employers to provide paid sick leave to all employees (including temporary and part-time employees) who perform work in San Francisco.

Although San Francisco is the first city to offer such benefits, it is likely other cities will follow suit.

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