On April 7, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an emergency ordinance that will require private employers with 500 or more employees to provide public health emergency leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were proud to work with Supervisor Gordon Mar and partners in California, including Jobs with Justice San Francisco and Legal Aid at Work, on this important measure, and we congratulate them on the ordinance’s successful passage. Once the Mayor signs the bill, as expected, it will take effect.
Last month, Congress passed into law the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which guarantees emergency paid sick time and paid leave to covered workers to care for their own health or for family members when impacted by COVID-19. One major gap in the law, however, is that it exempts businesses with 500 or more employees, a glaring omission that leaves millions of workers at large companies of workers without a legal right to any paid leave during this ongoing crisis. San Francisco’s emergency ordinance—which will remain in effect for 60 days under emergency provisions—will help to address this huge gap, and we urge more cities and states to follow suit. We look forward to working with our partners in San Francisco as they continue advocating for worker protections related to current and future public health emergencies.
In addition to producing COVID-19 know-your-rights factsheets, FAQs, and other tools for policymakers and workers around paid leave, we have also produced model laws around public health emergency leave. We are in the process of providing technical legal assistance to cities and states across the country who are interested in adapting these model bills and passing critically-needed public health emergency leave protections. As the pandemic continues, we hope more cities and states will join San Francisco by taking immediate, emergency steps and planning for more permanent solutions.