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New S.F. law requires employers to provide 6 weeks parental leave

Regional business advocacy group Bay Area Council supports measure

San Francisco supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to make the city the first in the country to require most employers to provide six weeks of fully paid parental leave to employees.

The legislation introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener applies to all businesses and nonprofits with 20 or more employees and all employees who

have been with a company for 180 days or more and work eight hours a week or more.

The law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017 for businesses with 50 or more employees, while smaller businesses will be given more time.

"Our country's parental leave policies are woefully behind the rest of the world, and today San Francisco has taken the lead in pushing for better family leave policies for our workers," Wiener said. "We shouldn't be forcing new mothers and fathers to choose between spending precious bonding time with their children and putting food on the table."

Currently under state law eligible parents can get up to 55 percent of their income paid for six weeks of parental leave through the state disability program. The ordinance approved Tuesday requires employers to make up the difference.

A law now on the Governor Jerry Brown's desk would increase the amount paid through the state, and Wiener said those changes would automatically reduce the amount local employers need to pay. In addition, any employers who already provide equal or greater parental leave benefits are exempt from the policy.

The law drew some opposition from members of the business community, including the city's Small Business Commission. Wiener Tuesday said he had tried to work with business groups and said he had the support of the Bay Area Council, a regional business advocacy group.

Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman Tuesday said in a statement that paid parental leave would increase the probability that employees will return to work, be more productive and earn higher wages.

"Our members recognize that while the addition of paid parental leave will come at a short-term expense to employers, it will yield a long-term financial and societal benefits," he said.

— Bay City News Service

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