Yesterday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed a local ordinance that requires San Francisco employers to compensate eligible employees while taking paid family leave (“PFL”) to bond with a new child.
The New PFL Benefit
Under existing California law, the State already pays eligible employees 55% of their prior salary while on baby-bonding PFL. Under San Francisco’s new ordinance, if an eligible employee goes out on baby-bonding PFL, the San Francisco employer would have to make up the difference between (a) the eligible employee’s gross weekly wage, and (b) the weekly benefit that employee is receiving from the State under PFL.
Implementing the New PFL Benefit
If a San Francisco employer has a policy that provides at least 6 consecutive weeks of fully-paid parental leave in any 12-month period for new child bonding, then that employer is not required to provide supplemental compensation.
In order to meet the new San Francisco requirements, a San Francisco employer can require an eligible employee to use up to two weeks of accrued vacation when State PFL starts. If an employee does not agree to use his/her accrued vacation, the employer is not required to provide any additional compensation.
To receive San Francisco supplemental compensation, an employee must sign a form created by San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (“OLSE”), agreeing to reimburse supplemental compensation received, in full, if he or she voluntarily separates from employment within 90 days of the end of his or her leave period, if the employer makes a written reimbursement request.Benefits max out for employees who make $106,647.32. Therefore, the maximum benefit an eligible employee can receive is $1,129/week (55% of $106,647.32 divided by 52 weeks). A San Francisco employer is required to match an eligible employee’s salary only up to this maximum level.
To be eligible for this new benefit, a San Francisco employee must (a) have worked with the employer for at least 90 days prior to taking the PFL leave, (b) work at least 8 hours per week in San Francisco, and (c) spend at least 40% of his/her working time in San Francisco. An eligible employee may take the time off within the first year after the child is born or is placed through foster care or adoption.
This new San Francisco ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2017 for employers with 50 or more employees. It goes into effect on July 1, 2017 for those employers with between 35-49 employees and on January 1, 2008 for those employers with 20-34 employees. Employers with under 20 employees (including part-time and temporary employees) are not impacted by this new ordinance.
Coordination With Existing State Law
Note: just over a week ago, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new state law that will increase the amount of State PFL benefits paid to employees who take time off to bond with a new child. I blogged about this new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2018, here. So once this new State law goes into effect, it will lessen the amount of compensation that a San Francisco employer will have to pay under this new local ordinance. The new San Francisco ordinance will overlay the new State law, so employers are encouraged to consult with their employment counsel if they receive a request from a San Francisco employee for a baby-bonding PFL time.