New mothers and fathers will soon be entitled to receive fully paid and protected parental leave under the legislation approved unanimously by San Francisco’s board of supervisors. The legislation makes San Francisco the first city in the U.S. to require employers to provide six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents when the city’s board of supervisors approved the new legislation on Tuesday.  The law will cover births as well as adoptions.

Employees in California are already allowed to take family leave and receive up to 55 percent of their regular wages for six weeks, paid through the state’s disability insurance program. The San Francisco law will requires employers to pay the remaining 45 percent of an employee’s wages while the employee is on parental leave.  Legislation is currently pending in California to increase the state contribution for partial pay.  Should the increase be approved, employers would be required to pay less under the San Francisco law.  Employees may be required to use up to two weeks of vacation leave before taking paid leave and will be required to repay the paid leave benefit if they leave employment within 90 days of returning from leave.

The San Francisco law will apply to businesses with 20 or more employees. Covered employees include those who work for an employer for at least 180 days and work a minimum of eight hours per week to eligible, including part-time or temporary employees.  Additionally, the San Francisco law makes it illegal to terminate or otherwise discriminate or take adverse employment action against an employee in retaliation for exercising their rights under the law.

The law will be phased in. Employers with 50 or more employees must comply starting January 1, 2017.  Employers with 20 to 50 workers have until July 1, 2017.  Before the new San Francisco law can go into effect, however, the law requires a second vote by the board of supervisors (currently scheduled for next week) and approval by the City’s Mayor.  These steps, however, are viewed as formalities in light of the unanimous vote on Tuesday and the general support the law has received.

San Francisco’s law may be the first to require fully paid leave but joins the growing number of jurisdictions, including New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and California, that require at least partial pay for parental leave. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island offer six weeks per year with partial pay and Rhode Island provides for four weeks with partial pay.  Just a day before San Francisco approved its law, new legislation was signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo offering up to 12 weeks of partial pay (see our prior blog post here).