San Francisco Embraces Fully-Paid Parental Leave

San Francisco will become the first city in the country to require businesses to offer fully-paid leave for the care of a new child. The measure was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors last week and takes effect January 2017.

California already has one of the most generous parental leave programs in the nation, offering 55% of wages for up to six weeks of paid family leave. And on Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed new legislation expanding the law with an increase to 60 percent of wages starting in 2018.

San Francisco's ordinance will eventually take state law a step further by requiring businesses of 20 or more employees to make up for the remaining wages.

"We're trying to balance the needs of businesses and of many families who are struggling to get by," said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who sponsored the measure. "Especially low-income and working class families right now literally having to choose, 'Do I spend time bonding with my child or put food on the table?' And that is a choice no one should have to make."

The landmark ordinance has been met with mixed reviews. Workers' rights advocates heralded the measure as a long-overdue step towards progress, but many small businesses say it represents one more barrier to opportunity in San Francisco.

"Can we make the Board of Supervisors run a business, meet payroll, so they can understand how these things work?" asked Stephen Adam, President of the Small Business Commission. His organization recently voted 6-1 to reject the ordinance, saying it would cause businesses to flee the city and discourage the establishment of new enterprises altogether.

Read more about San Francisco's new family leave ordinance here.

Image Credit: Flickr User bibbit, via (CC BY-SA 2.0)