San Francisco Voters to Ponder Sick Leave Measure

August 22, 2006 ( - San Francisco voters are set to decide later this year whether the California city will become the first US municipality to require firms to give workers paid sick days.

According to a news report in the San Francisco Sentinel, four members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors formally submitted the ballot proposal to the Elections Department with a request for the November ballot consideration.

The Coalition for Paid Sick Days said t he ballot measure would provide paid sick days for workers to care also for parents and legal guardians, siblings, children, spouses or registered domestic partners, grandparents, and one designated person not included in those categories.Categories of sick days refer to biological, adopted, and foster family relationships, according to the Coalition:

The ballot measure details how paid sick days would be accrued:

  • Every worker in San Francisco shall accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
  • New workers shall start accruing sick leave after a three-month probation period.
  • Sick day accrual has a cap of nine days or 72 hours for businesses with more than 10 employees.
  • Sick day accrual has a cap of five days or 40 hours for small businesses, defined as 10 or under employees.
  • Employees may use sick hours to miss part of a shift to attend medical appointments.
  • In the case of a union contract the legislation has a collective bargaining op-out.
  • Accrued leave may carry over from year to year but employers are not required to provide more than 72 hours (or 40 hours for small businesses) to workers.
  • Workers may not cash out or be reimbursed for unused hours upon the termination or resignation of employment.

The law is set to go into effect 90 days after election certification.

Employers are not required to provide additional sick leave or modify existing leave policies if a sick leave policy is already in place which meet ballot measure requirements.

Earlier this year, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom signed into law a universal health care bill for the city (See Current Newsom Health Plan Expands Earlier Coverage Program ).