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  • Carla V. Minnard

San Francisco Employers & Employees:  New Rules Regarding Paid Sick Leave Take Effect January 1,

Amendments to San Francisco’s paid sick leave law go into effect on January 1, 2017. These amendments expand San Francisco’s paid sick leave law to more closely track with the provisions of California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act.

Some highlights of the new amendments:

Employees will begin to accrue paid sick leave on the first day of employment (rather than the 90th day of employment) but may not use sick leave until the 90th day of employment.

Employees who leave their job but are rehired by the same employer within a year must have their unused sick leave reinstated.

Expand Permitted Uses: The amendments expand permitted sick time purposes to include preventive care, and also allow sick leave for an employee to donate bone marrow or an organ, or to assist a family member or designated person to do so. Employees can use paid sick leave for leave or other purposes when the employee is a victim or domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Broadens the definition of family member. Specifically, the definition of “parent” has been expanded to include a person who stood in loco parentis when an employee was a minor child, and a biological, adoptive, foster or stepparent, or guardian of the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner.

Allows an employer to provide a “lump sum” of paid sick leave at the beginning of the year, which would be treated as an advance. An employee would not accrue paid sick leave until after the employee has worked the number of hours necessary to have accrued the upfront allocation amount. The amendments state that an employer may, in its discretion, advance leave to an employee at other times, and the amendments do not limit the amount of leave that may be advanced to an employee. Importantly, an advance must occur per an employer's written policy or, absent an applicable written policy, must be documented in writing. Although frontloading is now specifically allowed by the San Francisco ordinance, provided the employer has a policy or documentation regarding the frontloading, employers must still permit carryover of unused sick time as required by the San Francisco Ordinance. Employers who have to provide notice of available sick leave under California state law must also include on that notice the amount of paid sick leave available under San Francisco’s law.

Employers should review their existing policies prior to January 1, 2107 to ensure that they conform to the new laws, and employees should educate themselves about the changes once they are implemented.

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