Alphonzo Jackson, center, holds his six-month old son Isaiah as he speaks with San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, left, before a rally supporting paid family leave at City Hall in San Francisco on April 5, 2016. 
Photo: Jeff Chiu
Photo: Jeff Chiu

San Francisco is first in country to require paid parental leave - how does it work?

On Tuesday, the city of San Francisco approved a preliminary measure that will require businesses to provide fully-paid parental leave for new mothers and fathers.

The ordinance is the first in the nation that would force companies that want to do business within a city’s limits to provide leave for parents after a birth or an adoption.

Some companies have already complained that they cannot afford to pay for the leave given the high cost of doing business in one of the most expensive cities in the country.

The measure requires another formal vote by the board next week as well as approval by Mayor Ed Lee, according to The Associated Press. 

Here is a quick look at what the measure requires.

What is it?

The ordinance requires companies doing business in San Francisco to provide fully paid parental leave for six weeks. The state of California manages an employee-funded state insurance program that allows workers to get 55 percent of their pay for up to six weeks after a child is born or is adopted. Companies doing business in San Francisco must now make up the other 45 percent of the pay for a person on parental leave.

Who can get the leave?

New mothers and fathers who work at least 8 hours a week and spend at least 40 percent of their work week within the city of San Francisco.

Who has to provide the pay?

Businesses with 50 or more employees must comply by January 2017. Businesses with 35 to 49 workers must comply by July 2017. Businesses with 20 to 34 workers have until January 2018 to comply.

The ordinance would cover nearly 75 percent of private-sector employees in the city, according to the San Francisco Office of Economic Analysis.

The legislation does not apply to the federal, state or the city of San Francisco. The city and county of San Francisco offers employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave. 

What else?

Payments are calculated as a percentage of wages up to an annual ceiling of $106,740.

California is one of only five states that have laws requiring companies to provide paid family leave programs.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees must be offered up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child if the company they work for has  50 or more employees.

According to a story from Reuters, about 5,000 San Francisco residents accessed the state's program for paid family leave for an average of 5.4 weeks in 2014.  

Sources: Reuters; The Associated Press; the city of San Francisco

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