S.F. proposal to mandate flexible work hours for caregivers amended to address concerns 

San Francisco supervisors could soon be deciding whether to put a measure on the November ballot that, if passed, would help The City’s workforce caring for children, an elderly parent or a sick spouse obtain a flexible work schedule.

The right for an employee to have the option of a flexible work schedule is a growing trend, with similar policies in place in other countries and most recently approved by the Vermont Legislature to go into effect in January.

San Francisco could follow suit with a proposed November ballot measure introduced in June by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. It would take six votes from the 11-member board to place it on the ballot.

“Work-life balances we all know has been incredibly difficult for parents and caregivers,” Chiu said.

Under the “family-friendly workplace” proposal, employees could request, twice a year, a flexible schedule such as part-time work, different shift hours or a telecommute arrangement if they are a parent, caregiver of a sick spouse or tend to an elderly parent.

An employer could deny the request in writing for a bona fide business reason, including if it would result in any cost to the business. A denial would give an employee a right to a meeting to discuss the reason with the employer.

Denied workers would be able to file a complaint with the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.

The proposal, when introduced in June, faced a backlash from business community leaders, who have resisted other business mandates imposed by The City over the years, such as health benefits, sick time and the highest minimum wage in the nation.

Chiu amended his proposal Thursday to reflect many of those concerns, including decreasing the number of businesses it would apply to from those with 10 or more employees to 20 or more. The measure is expected to cover about 8 percent of private employers in San Francisco, which employ 76 percent of private-sector employees in The City.

Supervisor London Breed expressed concerns about the measure and the need for more time to vet the proposal, its need and the impacts.

The deadline for the board to place the measure on the November ballot is Aug. 2.

“We talk about in theory a lot of legislation and we don’t think about the impact on the people who are required to implement this stuff,” Breed said. “I’m tired of The City continuously imposing a number of regulations that can be redundant to policy that already exists.”

The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee is expected to vote next week on sending the measure to the full board for the consideration of placing it on the ballot.

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