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SF's Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance and What It Means for Us

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on November 01, 2013 12:56 PM

San Francisco continues to bolster its image as a "feel good, live well" city with the latest passage of the San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance. The first of its kind in the state, the city ordinance could have a lasting, and wide-reaching impact across the state, and hopefully, the country.

The Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance

The San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance gives employees who are caregivers a "right to request" flexible or predictable work arrangements. Employees must be with the company for six months or more, and work eight or more hours a day, to request flexible working arrangements under the ordinance including part-time schedules, telecommuting or job sharing.

Within 21 days of a request an employer must meet with the employee about the request, and issue a decision within 21 days from that meeting. The ordinance affects business with 20 or more employees, and sets forth bona fide reasons to deny a request including loss of productivity and the cost of hiring, training or transferring employees.

Reducing Family Flight

David Chiu, the supervisor who introduced the law stated: "I hope that this legislation is a nudge to make real changes in our workplace culture to eliminate the stigma and bias around workers who request flexible working arrangements," reports The Huffington Post.

With San Francisco at the bottom of the list of percentage of children living in a major city, Chiu cited "family flight" as a problem that needs to be addressed by making "workplaces more family-friendly."

Possibility of State-Wide or National Effect

Vermont is the only state to pass a state-wide "right to request" law, reports KPIX, and The Legislative Fact Sheet notes that attempts to pass a law on the national level have failed. The Fact Sheet also cites a proposed California state bill, and the success "right to request" laws have achieved in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

All eyes will likely be on San Francisco come January 1, 2014, when the ordinance takes effect. With our Baby Boomer population aging, more and more workers will also be caregivers to family members. Let's hope San Francisco can lead the way to a more humane approach to achieving a work-life balance for the rest of the state, and nation.

Does your company have a flexible work arrangement policy in place?  Let us know on LinkedIn.

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