Insights

San Francisco Public Health Emergency Leave


On April 17, 2020, San Francisco Mayor Breed signed the San Francisco Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance into law. On April 18, 2020, the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement issued related guidelines for employers.

The law, which became effective immediately, applies to employers with 500 or more employees. To determine size, the employer should average the number of employees per pay period in 2019. This calculation should include all full-time, part-time, undocumented and temporary employees worldwide, not just those working in San Francisco. Independent contractors are not included; nor are private sector employees working at San Francisco International Airport, Fort Mason, the Presidio or the Golden Gate National recreation Area.

Employees working in San Francisco may take up to 80 hours (two weeks) of paid leave if they experience a qualifying reason. The employee’s leave entitlement is based on the average number of hours the employee worked over a one-week period for the six months prior to February 25, 2020. There are special rules for employees hired after February 25, 2020.

Importantly, the ordinance applies to businesses which are still open and those who have temporarily closed. Furloughed employees are eligible for paid leave.

For non-exempt employees, the employer has two choices for the rate of pay. The employer may use the regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the employee uses the paid leave or the employer may use the average pay, not including overtime premium pay, for the 90 days prior to the leave. For exempt employees, the employer would use the rate of pay typically used for other types of paid leave.

The reasons for leave are:

  • The employee is subject to an individual or general Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19. This includes an employee who is a member of a “vulnerable population” who is unable to work or telework due to recommendations in Order No. C19-05. For this purpose, vulnerable populations include people who are 1) 60 years old and older; 2) people with certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and weakened immune systems; and, 3) people who are pregnant or were pregnant in the last two weeks.
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an order as described above, has been advised by a health care provider or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • The employee is caring for a family member whose normal school or place of care has been closed, or the care provider is unavailable, due to the public health emergency.
  • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Local Health Officer, or under Section 5102(a) (6) of the Families First Coronavirus Act, by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“Family member,” for this purpose, includes a child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, legal guardian or ward, sibling, or spouse or registered domestic partner. It also includes a designated person if the employee has no spouse or registered domestic partner.

Employers must post a notice immediately. It must be provided in a manner calculated to reach all employees, such as posting at a job site, sending electronically, and/or posting to web-based or app-based platforms.

The ordinance will expire on June 17, 2020, or the termination of the public health emergency, whichever occurs earlier. Also, the Board of Supervisors may take action to extend the ordinance beyond the sunset date.

Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance »
Public Health Emergency Leave FAQs »
Public Health Emergency Leave Poster »