Supe to offer grace period bill for paid sick leave 

Employers may have more time to make sense of a new city law requiring paid sick leave for workers.

The first of its kind in the nation, San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance goes into effect Monday as business owners and the agency charged with enforcing it scramble to figure out how to implement it.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd is expected to introduce legislation today that would still have the law go into effect on Monday, but delay any sick day payouts and bar any penalties until after June 5. This would give The City more time to develop clear regulations and business owners more time to understand what they need to do, Elsbernd said.

Elsbernd as well as business leaders are critical of the fact that the sick leave ordinance went before the voters without public hearings at City Hall and had such an early effective date.

The worker advocacy group Young Workers United worked with Supervisor Chris Daly to place sick leave on the November 2006 ballot with four supervisors’ signatures.

The sick leave ordinance requires employers with fewer than 10 workers to offer as many as five paid sick days per year per employee and larger employers to offer up to nine days per year. Workers accrue one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.

If Elsbernd’s proposed legislation is approved, "the employer does not have to pay that employee for sick time until after June 5. It’s a bit of a grace period for the payment," Elsbernd said. "Between now and June 5, the Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement will have fully fleshed out the rules and regulations and by June 5 we’ll know exactly how much is to be paid."

The employers would still be required to count the hours employees work and workers can still take "paid sick leave," but would not actually be paid for any sick days until after June 5, according to Elsbernd’s legislation.

Young Workers United "is actively working with The City and the business community to come up with a solution for businesses to be able to implement this law," said Sonya Mehta, of Young Workers United. "It’s been far too long for workers not to have been able to take days off from work."

Mehta stood by the use of the ballot. "Part of the reason we chose the ballot is so people would be educated about it."

Elsbernd’s legislation would have to go before a Board of Supervisors committee for a hearing before returning to the full board for a vote. At that point, if adopted, the legislation would be retroactive to Feb. 5.

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