Employees in California who are eligible to take family leave, including leave for “baby bonding,” can receive up to 55% of their weekly wages (up to a maximum weekly benefit amount that is currently $1,129) for a period of 6 weeks through California’s “Paid Family Leave” program (funded through employee contributions to State Disability Insurance).
On April 5, 2016, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to require certain employers to provide employees with 6 weeks of fully paid parental leave. The law will require employers to cover the remaining 45% of an employee’s weekly wages during an eligible employee’s “parental leave” to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.
The ordinance still requires a second vote by the City’s Board of Supervisors. If approved, it will go into effect on January 1, 2017 for employers with more than 50 employees. It will apply to smaller businesses with 20 or more employees in 2018. The ordinance applies to a San Francisco employer based on the employer’s total number of employees, regardless of location, meaning that the ordinance may still apply to an employer’s San Francisco employees even if the employer does not have 50 (or beginning in 2018, 20) employees within the city of San Francisco.
In order to be eligible for San Francisco’s Paid Parental Leave benefit, the employee must: (1) have worked for the covered employer for at least 180 days before taking the leave; (2) work at least 8 hours each week and at least 40% of his or her total weekly hours within the city of San Francisco; (3) be eligible to receive funds under the California Paid Family Leave program for baby bonding purposes.
The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE), the City’s division responsible for enforcing this ordinance, does not yet have the actual ordinance or any regulatory guidance posted on its website. Unanswered questions at this time include whether this ordinance creates a substantive right to take leave or just a benefit once the employee has already qualified for leave under existing law. It is also unclear at this time what an employer’s maximum contribution will be for high wage employees. However, recent reports indicate that payments will be calculated as a percentage of wages up to an annual ceiling of $106,740 (which correlates with the maximum benefit provided under the California’s Paid Family Leave program).
Further updates on the ordinance will likely become available soon on the San Francisco OLSE website: http://sfgov.org/olse/.
– April 6, 2016 by Ana Thomas