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San Francisco, San Jose Workers to Get 80 Hours of Virus Pay (1)

April 8, 2020, 12:30 AMUpdated: April 8, 2020, 10:18 AM

Workers at large employers in the two most populous San Francisco Bay Area cities would get two weeks’ paid sick leave under proposals that passed in one city and was up for a vote in the other.

Emergency ordinances that passed in San Franciscoand San Jose on Tuesday would temporarily extend two weeks’ paid sick leave to workers not yet covered under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-136), signed March 18, that requires employees get paid sick leave for health reasons related to Covid-19. Private employers with 500 or more workers would be required to provide public health emergency leave.

“Every single SF employee of a private company with 500-plus employees, even if you’re furloughed, even if you’re the only employee in San Francisco, even if you started working a month before shelter in place, even if you’re a temp worker, even if you don’t live in San Francisco but you work here” is covered by the ordinance, Supervisor Gordon Mar said during a San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee meeting Monday.

“And all workers are presumed to be employees until or unless their employer demonstrates that they are an independent contractor,” Mar said. The law would cover hometown gig companies including Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., Postmates Inc., and DoorDash Inc. It also covers nonprofits with more than 500 employees.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is “broadly supportive of this,” said Emily Abraham, public policy manager. The amendments clarified that companies would get credit for already offering paid leave in response to the pandemic and the ordinance expires when the public health crisis ends. The city’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement will issue rules and guidelines and enforce the law.

The San Francisco ordinance unanimously passed and heads to a receptive Mayor London Breed. Supervisors in a parliamentary move forwarded most of the amendments approved Monday to the full board with a provision covering paid leave for health-care workers to return to the Rules Committee next week. Health-care employers and emergency responders are deemed essential businesses. They may decide to limit an employee’s use of leave. Workers at a minimum may use the emergency leave if unable to work either at the customary place of work or telework, if the worker is advised to self quarantine or is under isolation order, or is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19. The change was considered a substantial amendment requiring an additional hearing.

San Francisco and San Jose since March 17 have been under shelter-in-place orders that last week were extended to May 3.

The San Jose City Council approved its own, similar Covid-19 paid sick leave benefits ordinance. It sunsets on Dec. 31, 2020, which coincides with the federal emergency paid sick leave law’s expiration.

The San Jose law immediately grants workers employed by companies in San Jose—those not required to provide paid sick time under the federal emergency act—40 hours of paid sick leave. An amendment gives hospital employers two weeks to comply. The amendment allows Kaiser Permanente to complete negotiations with unions representing workers, Mayor Sam Liccardo said Tuesday night during the council meeting.

Employers would have to give an hour of sick leave for every two hours worked, with a cap of 80 hours, until the city’s state of emergency expires.

A bill (A.B. 3216) pending in the state Legislature will be amended to expand a number of worker protections and benefits, “including expanding access to paid sick leave for all Californians as soon as possible,” bill author Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D) said in a letter to the San Jose Council.

The California Legislature temporarily recessed until May 4 to help slow the virus’s spread.

(Updated with San Jose vote and amendment to ordinance in 8th and 9th paragraphs)

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at; Karl Hardy at