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San Francisco’s Paid Parental Leave Ordinance: What You Need to Know

Parents in California are covered by some of the most comprehensive parental leave laws in the U.S. However, while these laws are better than they are in many states, they still leave a lot to be desired. 

For example, private employers are not required to provide workers with paid parental leave. Instead, eligible workers must request unpaid parental leave from their employer, then request Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits from the California State Disability Insurance fund. These benefits last eight weeks and only cover up to 70% of the employee’s average weekly pay. While this is significantly better than a completely unpaid parental leave, it can still leave many new families struggling to pay bills.

Some California municipalities have taken steps to rectify the problem, though. For example, the city of San Francisco has implemented a law known as the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO) to supplement workers’ finances during the earliest days of welcoming a new child into the family. 

PPLO is invaluable for eligible workers but is not a guaranteed benefit. If you are preparing to welcome a new child into your family and regularly work in San Francisco, you should understand how SF PPLO works and how to make the most of this unique benefit. 

What Is San Francisco’s Paid Parental Leave Ordinance?

The Paid Parental Leave Ordinance is a law that requires employers to provide “supplemental compensation” to eligible workers who are on parental leave. The law intends to ensure that employees receive the equivalent of their full salary while they are on paid leave. SF PPLO payments for eligible employees are paid after PFL benefits are granted and calculated using the awarded benefits. 

PFL benefits range from 60-70% of an employee’s weekly salary, currently capped at $1620 weekly. For example, if you earn $2000 per week before tax, you would receive $1200 per week in PFL benefits upon successfully applying. If you are also eligible for PPLO, your employer would be expected to pay you an additional $800 per week to make up the funds you otherwise would not receive. 

This is particularly valuable for families in and around San Francisco, which has one of the highest cost of living indexes in the country. In a city where renting a two-bedroom apartment costs an average of $4300 a month and the median home value is $1,195,700, every dollar counts. New parents eligible for SF PPLO can use the benefit to ensure that starting a family doesn’t force them to move away. 

PFL vs. PPLO: Eligibility and Benefits

The eligibility requirements for PFL and PPLO are similar but not the same. Here’s how the two benefits programs compare:

Employment LocationAll of CaliforniaWorkers who work at least 8 hours a week and 40% or more of their total hours for the employer in San Francisco 
ConditionsApplicants must be employed or looking for work and unable to perform their normal duties because they have welcomed a new baby, adopted child, or foster child into their family in the past year. Typically, if a person is eligible for unpaid CFRA leave due to a new child, they are also eligible for PFL.Workers must currently be employed and receiving PFL benefits.
Amount Paid60-70% of an employee’s average earnings during a 13-month “base period” from 18 to 5 months before the leave begins, capped at $1620 weekly in 2023.An employee’s average weekly salary minus PFL benefits, capped at $1080 per week to reach $2700 total.
Employer Eligibility5 or more employees 20 or more employees internationally
Weekly HoursAmy amountAt least 8 hours a week
Employment Duration26 consecutive weeks of employment for workers who work 20 hours a week or more, or 175 days if they work fewer than 20 hours a week180 days
Length8 weeks8 weeks

What to Do If Your Employer Denies PPLO

If you work in San Francisco, you may be relying on PPLO to cover some of your bills after welcoming a new child. That can make a denial from your employer particularly painful. However, suppose you meet the eligibility requirements listed above. In that case, your employer must pay you PPLO, regardless of where they are headquartered or whether you’re taking FMLA leave. The only exception is if it already has another paid leave program that compensates you equally. Failing to pay you appropriately, or retaliating against you for requesting PPLO, may give you the right to take legal action. 

According to municipal law, the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) is usually responsible for investigating and prosecuting PPLO denials. However, if the OLSE and City Attorney does not take legal action within 90 days of receiving written notice of a complaint, you may file a civil claim against your employer directly. You can use this claim to pursue up to treble the supplemental compensation you did not receive, as well as attorneys fees and legal costs. 

Of course, when you’re busy adjusting to life as a new parent, the last thing you want to do is to fight a legal battle alone. With Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP on your side, you don’t have to. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of workers with families around California. Our experienced attorneys understand the importance of receiving fair supplemental compensation during parental time off in San Francisco. If your employer denies your PPLO claim, we can help. Learn more about how we can assist you with an unpaid PPLO claim by scheduling your consultation with our parental leave attorneys today.

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