What’s the San Francisco Governmental Sick Leave Policy?

If you are a San Francisco worker (or employer), you are probably already at least vaguely familiar with the ballot initiative passed in 2006 that guarantees workers paid sick days. This law, which was supported by nearly two-thirds of voters in the city, provides critical support for workers who fall ill. Per the law, for every 30 hours you work, you get to accumulate one hour of paid sick time. If you work for a small business, with 10 or fewer employees, you can accrue five full days of paid sick time annually. If you work at a larger company, you can accrue even more sick days – up to nine annually.

What’s the verdict on the sick day policy? Does it help or not?

Studies suggest that workers have indeed been using the sick time leave to recover from illnesses/injuries as opposed to “playing hooky.” They use this critical paid time off to go to a physician, recover from sickness, help a partner or a child who needs to go to a doctor, or simply recover at home in bed with some chicken soup and a warm blanket.

Have employment rates in the city suffered as a result of this policy?

Employers at first balked at the relative generousness of the law. However, two relatively comprehensive studies conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and other organizations show that employment rates in the city have not suffered. That said, unfortunately, more than a quarter of “bottom wage quartile” employees suffered reduced total hours and/or layoffs because of the mandated sick leave policy.

So is the policy perfect?

Obviously not. Has it been helpful? Advocates say: absolutely.

Unfortunately, parsing the ultimate effects of this policy is difficult, since the law is obviously not a controlled scientific experiment. Many “outside” variables can influence our general health, and welfare and employment rates. So analysts must be careful not to attribute “cause and effect”b too glibly. For instance, San Francisco’s workers and employers have been deeply affected both by the rise and fall of the local IT industry, the ongoing (will it ever end?) budget crisis in Sacramento, and international economic factors that are obviously way outside the control and scope of city officials, businesses, and employees.

Leaving all that aside, if you or someone you care about has questions about overtime, harassment, discrimination, or any other employment law issues in San Francisco and Oakland, the Law Offices of Daniel Vega can help. Our team serves San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.

Find out more about us at www.vegalawyer.com, or call us toll free at 866-471-6847 to schedule a consultation.