This month, the City of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved a measure mandating that all employers in San Francisco provide six weeks of fully paid leave during a calendar year for new parents. The measure includes paid leave for mothers, fathers, and same-sex couples who either bear or adopt a child.
By adopting this measure, San Francisco follows the lead of prominent private employers that have made significant moves toward more employee-friendly leave policies. Public and private employers across the country should take note: This development may mark the beginning of a nationwide trend.
This new law — the first of its kind among American cities — acts as a supplement to California’s existing Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI). FTDI provides employees with 55 percent of their base pay, up to a statutory cap, for six weeks. Starting in the year 2017, San Francisco’s ordinance will act as a supplement to the FTDI by requiring employers with 50 or more employees to provide the remaining 45 percent of the employees’ wages for the same six week leave period. The employers’ contribution will be capped at the FTDI amount. Employers with at least 20 employees will have until the year 2018 to comply.
San Francisco’s new measure is at the forefront of the escalating movement to provide family-friendly benefits to new parents. Surprisingly, the United States is one of only two countries listed by the International Labor Organization that do not have a national law providing some form of paid parental leave. As a result, statistics show that only 13 percent of people working in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employer. In dual-earner households, this creates severe consequences; for single parents, the difficulties are even more serious.
To address this themselves, a number of tech companies and other corporations — among them, Virgin, Nestle, and Goldman Sachs — offer paid parental leave in order to give families the comfort of financial security and quality bonding time with their children. Now that the City of San Francisco has followed suit, many cities and states will keep a close eye on the financial and commercial impact on businesses there to determine whether they wish to consider mandating similar benefits to employees.
It will be interesting to see if this new law becomes a trend that will have a long-lasting impact on a national level, bringing the United States in line with the majority of countries offering fully paid leave. We will continue to monitor the situation and report on any further developments.
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