Last week, San Francisco adopted the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance [pdf] that requires San Francisco employers to consider requests from employees for flexible schedules (reduced hours or flex start times), predictable schedules, or special working arrangements (such as telecommuting) to accommodate caregiving responsibilities.  This new ordinance takes effect January 1, 2014 and covers San Francisco employers with 20 or more employees.  Covered employees are those working at least eight hours a week who have been employed at least six months.  Here is a brief summary of how the ordinance will work:

The SF Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (“OLSE”) will soon issue, and prior to 1/1/14 employers must post, a notice informing employees of their right to request a flexible or predictable working arrangement.

  • Employees may request a schedule change/arrangement verbally at first, but employers may direct the employee to put the request in writing.
  • Employers must meet with the employee to discuss the request within 21 days of notice of the request.
  • Employers must respond to the request in writing with an approval or denial within 21 days of the meeting; any denial must identify a bona fide business reason for the denial.
  • If the request is denied, the employee may appeal to the employer for reconsideration of the request within 30 days of the decision.
  • If appealed, the employer must again meet with the employee within 21 days of notice of the appeal and then provide a final decision within 21 days of that meeting with an approval or denial of the request.
  • Employees may make a request under the ordinance two times per year, unless the employee has experienced a “Major Life Event” such as the birth of a child, placement of a minor in his/her care, or increase in caregiving responsibilities for a person with a serious health condition, in which case he/she may make an additional request.
  • Employers must keep records of their compliance with the ordinance for three years from the date of each request for a flexible or predictable working arrangement.

Employers who fail to comply with this ordinance or who retaliate against employees who assert their rights under the ordinance will be subject to penalties of up to $50 per day per employee, as well as possible legal action by the OLSE.