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Fully Paid Leave for New Parents in San Francisco

Posted on April 12, 2016

San Francisco Becomes First Place in Country to Offer Fully Paid Leave for New Parents.

The measure was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors and will give new mothers and fathers six weeks of fully paid time off.

The measure requires another formal vote by the board next week as well as approval by Mayor Ed Lee, who says he is happy to sign it.

Employers have added this new directive to the long list of recent laws that they feel are difficult and expensive to comply with, including paid sick leave and health coverage.

The issue of paid parental leave is gaining momentum across the country much like the debate over a higher minimum wage. Paid leave has even become a topic in the presidential campaign. Many companies such as Twitter, Netflix, and Facebook have recently and very publicly started offering paid parental leave to their workers.

The state of California currently allows workers to receive 55 percent of their pay for up to six weeks to bond with a new child. The money comes from a Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program funded by workers through payroll deductions.

The San Francisco measure requires employers with at least 20 employees to make up the difference between the 55% paid by the PFL Program and the employee’s regular salary.

The regulation will be phased in, starting with businesses that employ 50 workers in January 2017. Businesses with 35 to 49 workers must comply starting in July 2017 and businesses with 20 to 34 workers have until January 2018.

The benefit applies to new mothers and fathers who work at least eight hours a week and spend at least 40 percent of their work week within San Francisco boundaries.

The legislation does not apply to the federal, state or other municipal governments. People who work for the city and county of San Francisco receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

Companies who currently offer generous paid leave benefits to attract and retain workers can keep their current policies as long as they comply with the minimum requirements of the San Francisco measure.

Lauren Sims, a Senior HR Generalist, prepared this article.

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eqHR Solutions is a leading HR consulting firm providing tactical and strategic human resources support to all size businesses in Southern California and the San Francisco / Bay area.