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San Francisco Ordinance Expected to Bring Positive Change for Families

Working parents, and workers who are also designated caregivers for loved ones face many unique challenges every day. Mornings can feel rushed, as the time a child must get on the school bus conflicts with the time required to begin a typical rush-hour morning commute. Evenings are often worse, as time in traffic consumes time that would otherwise be considered “quality,” used for homework-help, or to prepare and enjoy a nice family meal.

However, working parents are on the cusp of what may prove to be a drastic change to their traditional workday. As reported by the Huffington Post, an ordinance introduced in June by San Francisco, California, Supervisor David Chiu, became law in October. The City of San Francisco is now the first city in the United States to pass legislation that specifically provides the right for working parents and designated caretakers to request flexible work arrangements.

The legislation follows the recent trend of “family flight” from San Francisco, as families are moving away from the city in record numbers. The Huffington Post reports that, according to a 2010 census, San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any major U.S. city. Supervisor Chiu believes that the ordinance will “make it less likely that San Franciscans will be in the difficult situation of having to choose between their jobs and the well-being of their children and loved ones.” This approach, geared at promoting a more fair workplace, seeks to protect working parents and caregivers from discriminatory workplace practices.

Some of the non-traditional work arrangements that can be requested under the “San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance” include:

  • A change in workday start time
  • Part-time work schedules
  • Part-year work arrangements
  • Opportunity to telecommute, or work from home
  • Schedule predictability

Effective January 1, 2014, the ordinance applies only to businesses with 20 or more employees, and provides for a formalized process for employees requesting special accommodations. Additionally, employers are mandated to follow certain rules when evaluating an employee’s request. These include:

  • A meeting with the employee, within 21 days of the request
  • A written response to the request
  • A detailed explanation in the event of a denial
  • A requirement that the employer inform workers about the new ordinance
  • A visible, conspicuous posting about the ordinance in the workplace

Lawmakers hope that the new ordinance will provide much-needed change in the San Francisco area, as it seeks to promote equality, rather than leave working parents and caregivers at a disadvantage. Many hope that this new protection for families will create a trend toward similar legislation in other large cities.

If you work in the San Francisco area, and feel that you have been a victim of workplace discrimination, the counsel of an experienced attorney can help you attain fair results in an unfair situation. If you are seeking to exercise the protections that will be provided by the new legislation, or feel you have been wrongfully denied such protections once they are put in place, contact our office today.