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Expansion of San Francisco's Paid Parental Leave

The new year brought to San Francisco the most comprehensive parental leave law offered anywhere in the country. Under the San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO), when covered employees use California paid family leave (PFL) benefits for new child bonding - bonding with a child during the first year after birth or placement through foster care or adoption - covered employers must pay supplemental compensation. 

The PPLO became effective on January 1, 2017, for employers with 50 or more employees. San Francisco employers with a smaller headcount will soon follow suit: effective July 1, 2017, the PPLO will apply to employers with 35 or more employees, and on January 1, 2018, to employers with 20 or more employees. 

While the California PFL program currently pays employees 55 percent of their wages, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $1,173, for a six-week period, PPLO requires employers to pay supplemental compensation up to a maximum of $980 per week.

Who is eligible?

The employee must work at the employer for at least 180 days. The employee can be full-time, part-time, or temporary, but not an independent contractor. The employee has to work a minimum of 8 hours per week in San Francisco, with 40 percent of his or her total work hours in San Francisco. All new parents who meet these conditions are eligible for PPLO benefits.

Can employers require employees to use paid time off?

The PPLO allows employers to require employees to use up to two weeks of accrued paid time off to help satisfy the employers' obligation to pay supplemental compensation during the leave period. This would be counted toward the employers' total six-week obligation to provide supplemental compensation.

What if the employer already has a paid parental leave policy?

PPLO specifies that an employer is not required to pay supplemental compensation if it has an existing policy that provides employees with at least six weeks of fully paid parental leave for new child bonding within any 12-month period.

Is there any required paperwork for the employee to submit?

To receive San Francisco supplemental compensation, an employee must sign a form created by San Francisco's Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE).

The form requires the employee to agree to reimburse supplemental compensation received, in full, if he or she voluntarily terminates employment within 90 days of the end of his or her leave period, if the employer makes a written reimbursement request. The form can be found here.

Does the six weeks paid leave have to be taken at once?

No. The employee can opt to take the six weeks all at once or intermittently over 12 months.

Is there a cap on how much supplemental compensation employees can receive?

Yes. The total amount of money an employee can receive from the state plus the employer is $2,133 per week. That means employees who earn 110,916 or less a year will receive full paid leave during those six weeks, but those who earn more than that will receive less than full paid leave.

Who may enforce the ordinance?

The OLSE may investigate any possible violations of the ordinance by an employer and bring an administrative enforcement or civil action against an employer. The City may bring a civil action in court against an employer for violations of the ordinance. A person or entity may also bring a civil action against an employer after he/she/it provides the OLSE and the City Attorney with written notice and more than 90 days have passed without the City Attorney filing suit or the OLSE providing notice of its intent to bring an administrative enforcement action or a determination that no violation has occurred.