On March 16, 2020, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced a Workers and Families First Program to provide additional paid sick leave benefits for employees affected by COVID-19.  The plan includes $10 million in funding that will allow businesses to provide an additional five days of sick leave pay beyond their existing policies.

All businesses will be eligible to receive the funds, with up to 20 percent of funds reserved for businesses with 50 or fewer workers.  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.

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 program is available pursuant to San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. The San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OSLE) recently issued guidance (available at https://sfgov.org/olse/san-francisco-paid-sick-leave-coronavirus).  According to the guidance, paid sick leave is available when employees are:

  • Sick,
  • Self-quarantined,
  • 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 purpose of the Workers and Families First Program is to reduce the economic impact on San Francisco employees and businesses, and to encourage workers to stay home to care for themselves and family members.  The impact of the new program will be extraordinary if fully utilized, supporting over 16,000 additional weeks of sick leave pay and providing coverage for up to 25,000 employees working in the City or on City-owned property.

The full news release can be found here.  For more information on the new Workers and Families First Program, see the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement found here.