San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance

By Soo Cho and Michele Haydel Gehrke

Ah, San Francisco — the Bridge! Golden Gate Park! The chocolate! The fog! . . . the ordinances!?  In recent years, our favorite City by the Bay has adopted a number of employee-friendly ordinances that can catch the unwary employer.  In addition to the new “Ban the Box” Ordinance discussed here, San Francisco has a number of additional city ordinances regulating employers.  These ordinances include the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance; the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance; the Health Care Security Ordinance; and the Minimum Wage Ordinance.  Navigating these ordinances can be tricky not only for employers located in San Francisco, but for employers who have employees who spend more than 8 hours a week working in San Francisco.

San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance

As mentioned in previous Cal-Pecs blogs, here and here, effective January 1, 2014 San Francisco has implemented a new Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance.  This ordinance allows employees to request flexible or predictable work arrangements to allow the employee to assist with caregiving responsibilities for a child, a family member with a serious health condition, or a parent age 65 or older.

This ordinance applies to employers who regularly employ 20 or more employees, regardless of location.  Employees are covered if they have been employed for six months and regularly work at least 8 hours per week in San Francisco.  Employees may request accommodations such as a reduced schedule, a change in scheduled work times, working from home or telecommuting.
Continue Reading Navigating San Francisco City Ordinances

By Soo Cho, Michele Haydel Gehrke, and Pamela Devata

Not only is complying with California’s labor laws challenging, operating a business in San Francisco can be particularly challenging due to a number of San Francisco city ordinances regulating employers.  Most recently, on February 17, 2014, Mayor Ed Lee signed the “Ban the Box” ordinance.  While the ordinance sounds as if it belongs in the same category as other  San Francisco environmental ordinances banning the use of plastic bags, this ordinance, formally known as the “Fair Chance Ordinance,” actually relates to what an employer can ask about relating to criminal history and when an employer can conduct a criminal background check in hiring. San Francisco is joining the ranks of many other states and municipalities who have recently passed similar restrictions “banning” the criminal history box (i.e., HI, MA, MN, RI, Newark, NJ, Seattle, WA, etc.).  See our publications relating to these trends here and here.

The Fair Chance Ordinance requires private employers in San Francisco who employ 20 or more employees (in any location) to limit the use of criminal background checks during the hiring process.  “Employers” is defined broadly to include not only private employers in San Francisco, but also employment agencies, contractors and subcontractors (with performance contracts in excess of $5,000 and for longer than 30 days), and housing providers.

Employers are barred from asking about criminal history or conducting a background check until the employer determines that the individual’s qualifications meet the requirements for the position.  Specifically, the law requires removal of the box or question on an employment application asking “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”  The ordinance notes that an estimated one of four California adults has an arrest or conviction record and seeks to limit the “unnecessary and significant barriers to employment” created by such application questions. This is similar to the reasoning espoused in Equal Employment Opportunity’s Enforcement Guidance on the Use of Arrest and Criminal Records in the Hiring Process, which can be found here.

Employers in San Francisco may ask about a candidate’s conviction history after the first live interview, but must provide the candidate with a notice of rights (an applicable notice of rights will be published by the city within the next six months).  Employers are also prohibited from considering (1) any arrests that do not lead to convictions, (2) offenses other than felonies or misdemeanors, (3) convictions more than seven years old, (4) an applicant’s participation in or completion of a diversion or deferral of judgment program, and (5) sealed, inoperative or juvenile convictions.

Similar to the federal requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S. C. Sec. 1681 et. seq. and state requirements under the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act, Cal. Civ. Code Sec. 1786 et. seq,  the ordinance also provides that if an employer does run a background check and intends to take an adverse action against the candidate based on that information, the employer must:
Continue Reading Asking About Criminal History and Conducting Background Checks (“Ban the Box”)

By Daniel Kim and Michele Haydel Gehrke

The San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, which we discussed in an earlier blog here, allows employees to request “flexible or predictable working arrangements” to care for their loved ones — a child, sick family member, or an elderly parent.  Despite having just gone into effect with