Press Release: Supervisor Wiener Announces Legislation to Require Paid Parental Leave for San Francisco Workers

Legislation ensures that all employees who work in San Francisco are paid their full salary for at least 6 weeks of parental leave

San Francisco Today Supervisor Scott Wiener announced legislation to require San Francisco businesses to provide paid parental leave. Under current California law, employees can get up to 55% of their wages for 6 weeks through state disability. Supervisor Wiener’s ordinance requires that employers pay their employees the remaining balance of their income (45%), so that for weeks of leave the employee would receive his or her full wages. This legislation — which applies to both parents — will make San Francisco the first city in the country to require full paid parental leave for employees.

“The United States has fallen so far behind the rest of the world in providing paid parental leave,” said Supervisor Wiener. “Our current policies negatively impact all new parents, and in particular lower income workers who don’t have the safety net or flexibility to take unpaid leave. We shouldn’t force mothers and fathers to choose between taking care of their child and putting food on the table. San Francisco should, once again, lead the way on an important issue for workers and their families. By enacting this ordinance, we can show California and the rest of the nation what we need to do to support our families.”

This legislation applies to employers with 20 or more employees. If an employer provides benefits that exceed this requirement, the ordinance would not apply.

“Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is proud to support Supervisor Wiener’s proposal to expand access to paid parental leave,” said Jennifer Reisch, Legal Director at Equal Rights Advocates. “Paid leave is an essential building block of women’s economic security and has tremendous positive impacts on parents and children alike. But the reality is that few workers in the private sector have access to it. It is high time for working parents across the income spectrum to have access to this important benefit, not just those in high-paying professional jobs. Supervisor Wiener’s proposal to expand access to paid parental leave is a smart, family-friendly workplace policy that will benefit working people who urgently need it and strengthen our economy as a whole.”

Nationally, only 12 % of workers have access to paid family leave through their employers, and only half of first-time mothers take any paid leave. California is one of three states, which provides some basic level of leave (New Jersey and Rhode Island are the others.)

California’s current Paid Family Leave program, under state disability, grants 6 weeks of paid family leave at 55% wage replacement. This program has proven a success on a number of levels, including:

• Mothers who use the program are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and to continue breastfeeding for approximately twice as long as mothers who do not use the program

• Doubled the average length of leave taken by new mothers from three weeks to between six and seven weeks. The greatest gains are among mothers with lower levels of education, unmarried mothers, Latina mothers and African American mothers

• Men who take two or more weeks off after the birth of a child are more involved than fathers who take no leave in the direct care of their children nine months later.

• 83 percent of workers in lower-level jobs who used the program returned to their previous employer — a 10-point improvement compared to workers who did not use the program

• Paid leave increases worker productivity, improves loyalty and morale.

Supervisor Wiener is proud to follow the work that his colleague Supervisor Katy Tang has been undertaking to improve parental leave. This past November, the voters passed a ballot measure authored by Supervisor Tang that strengthened the paid parental leave ordinance for city employees, and Supervisor Tang is continuing to work to find new ways to expand leave for parents in both the public and private sector. Supervisor Wiener supports this work, and Supervisor Tang’s leadership on this critical issue.

Supervisor Wiener will introduce the ordinance at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on January 26th.

CA State Senator. Urbanist. Environmentalist. Advocate for transit, housing, clean energy, criminal justice reform, health, ending poverty. Democrat. 🏳️‍🌈

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