Feeling A Little Sick

Employers in San Francisco are seemingly either up in arms or at a loss as to Prop F, the new sick leave ordinance that was voted in during the last election. For better or for worse, it’s here at least for now. And employers better be ready by February 5th.

As this article points out, there’s less animosity than there is confusion. No one really knows what to do and how to implement a program that would comply with the law.

Under the ordinance, an employee earns one hour of leave for every thirty hours worked. The cap would be 72 hours of leave for “large” employers, meaning 10 employees or more and 40 for “small” employers. The accrual can roll over to the next year, but unlike vacation accrual in California, it does not have to be paid out upon termination of employment.

Of course, we wouldn’t be in California if there weren’t some potential conflict. Under the California Labor Code, an employee may use up to half of his/her sick time to care for a child, spouse or dependent who may be ill (Kin Care). Under Prop F, the employee may use all of his/her sick time to do so. Therein lies the rub. Additionally, the employee may also take time off to care for a “designated person” whom does not otherwise meet the family definition. Unfortunately, the City is not specific as to whom a designated person should be.

Employers will be required to post notices (provided by the City) and keep payroll records for a period of four years, a year longer than state requirements.

Finally (and this one burns me), an employer cannot discipline an employee for excessive absence when the employee is using sick leave under the ordinance. An employer, however, may take “reasonable measures” to verify the use of sick leave. Unfortunately, the City, yet again, is unclear as to what constitutes “reasonable measures”. If an aggrieved employee feels that the employer is retaliating against him/her over the use of sick leave under Prop F, the employee then has the right to call the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement who can investigate, request hearings, enforce relief, etcetera ad nauseum (and I am).

I realize that this can be a very good thing for a number of employees in the City (and I voted for it!), but in retrospect, it could be that this ordinance painted the City with way too big a brush.

Makes me glad I work on the Peninsula.

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