San Francisco Passes Amendments to Family-Friendly Workplace Ordinance

by Katie A. Collins
The Labor & Employment Law Blog

The San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO) gives certain employees the right to request flexible or predictable work arrangements to assist with caregiving responsibilities. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance on October 8, 2013, and the law became operative on January 1, 2014.

On March 14, 2022, the City of San Francisco amended the FFWO. The amendments will go into effect on July 12th. The FFWO applies to all employers with 20 or more employees. Employees of these employers are covered by the law if they are (1) employed in San Francisco, (2) have been employed for six months or more by their current employer, and (3) work at least eight hours per week on a regular basis. Notably, the amendments expand the protections to those that “telework,” which is defined as an employee’s work for the employer from the employee’s residence or other location that is not an office or worksite of the employer if the employer maintains an office or worksite within the city of San Francisco at which the employee may work, or prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was permitted to work.

The amended FFWO requires employers to provide employees with a flexible or predictable work arrangement for qualifying caregiving responsibilities upon request by the employee unless doing so would cause the employer undue hardship, defined as a significant expense or operational difficulty when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business. Under the FFWO, protected caregiving includes care of a child/children under the age of 18, a person/persons with a serious health condition in a “family relationship” with the employee, or any person age 65 or older who is in a “family relationship” with the employee. “Family relationship” is defined as a relationship in which a caregiver is related by blood, legal custody, marriage, or domestic partnership to another person as a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.

An employer who does not approve a flexible or predictable work arrangement is also required to engage in an interactive process with the employee to attempt in good faith to determine a mutually acceptable arrangement.

The amendments also expanded penalty mechanisms available to the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement’s for enforcement of the FFWO.