The San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO) has recently been amended and expanded. The new law gives certain employees the right to request flexible or predictable work arrangements to assist with caregiving responsibilities.
Employers with 20 or more employees (anywhere in the world) are covered by the law. The business location must be within the geographic boundaries of the City of San Francisco and County of San Francisco. A business location is defined as any physical space used for the business to run its operations.
Employees are covered by the law if they are:
- Employed in San Francisco
- Have been employed for six (6) months or more by the current employer, and
- Work at least eight (8) hours per week on a regular basis within the geographic boundaries of San Francisco
What about teleworking?
An employee is covered if they are assigned to a San Francisco business location at the time the request is made regardless of where they are physically working. An employee is not covered if they were never assigned to the San Francisco office.
Example #1: The employer has offices in San Francisco, Burlingame, and Hayward. An employee works from their home in San Mateo. If they were to work “onsite,” they would be assigned to work in the Burlingame office. The employee is not covered by the FFWO even though they work for an Employer who has an office in San Francisco.
Example #2: In 2019, Employee A works at the San Francisco office. In 2020, Employee A begins to telework from Oregon and is assigned to the SF office. Employee A is covered under FFWO. In 2021, Employee B lives in Nebraska and was hired into a telework position assigned to the New York Office. The employer has a business location in SF. Employee B is not covered under FFWO.
How is caregiving defined?
Covered employees may request a flexible or predictable working arrangement to assist with care for any of the following:
- A child or children for whom the employee has assumed parental responsibility
- A person or persons with a serious health condition in a family relationship with the employee
- A person who is age 65 or older in a family relationship with the employee.
Family Relationship means a relationship in which a caregiver is related by blood, legal custody, marriage, or domestic partnership to another person as a spouse, domestic partner, child parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.
An employee’s attestation of caregiving duties may suffice, but employers can request verification within limits. Employers may ask the employee to provide a note confirming the obligation (e.g. medical appointment is on Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m.). Employers may not ask for confirmation about the reason for the appointment or extraneous verification, such as from the employee’s family members that they are unavailable to assist, when there is no basis to believe that the employee’s attestation is invalid.
Regular Schedule Request vs. FFWO Request
Example #3: An employee receives their schedule every two weeks and is required to make a scheduling request on the Friday before the schedule is posted. On the first of the month, the employee requests not to be scheduled for the night shift on the twelfth of the month. The manager hears from a co-worker that the employee’s request is to attend his son’s dance recital. Is this a valid FFWO request? Or is this a regular scheduling request?
The employee’s request is not considered a notice of need for a flexible or predictable working arrangement under the FFWO since he did not expressly disclose that his need is due to his ongoing caregiving responsibilities and rather it relates to a singular occasion. Also, the request was not made in a timely manner (i.e. it did not afford the employer 21 calendar days to respond). This request should be regarded and addressed as a regular scheduling request.
The changes to the ordinance are effective as of July 12, 2022.