Quirky Question # 221, San Francisco Ordinance: Flexible Work Schedule


We have a part-time employee in San Francisco, CA who works Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. as support for our sole salesperson in the Bay Area.  She has recently requested to alter her schedule to work only 3 days a week.  I know there was a new San Francisco law about flexible schedules but we only have two employees in San Francisco so I am sure we are not covered by this law.  Correct?

Answer: By David Murphy and Gabrielle Wirth

David Murphy

David Murphy

Gabrielle Wirth

Gabrielle Wirth

The San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance effective January 1, 2014 applies to employees of 20 or more full or part-time employees.  Effective this month, the City amended the Ordinance to clarify that the Ordinance covers employers with 20 or more employees anywhere.  You are covered even with 2 employees.

This law grants an employee who works within the City limits of San Francisco and who has worked for 6 months or more and regularly works at least 8 hours per week the right to request to work a flexible schedule when needed to assist with child care or care of a family member with a serious health condition or a parent aged 65 or older. Flextime arrangements may include modified work schedules, job sharing, changes in start and end times, working from home and telecommuting or any change in schedule that provides flexibility to assist an employee with caregiving responsibilities.

An employer who receives a request for a flexible working arrangement must meet with the employee within 21 days of the request and respond in writing within 21 days of that meeting.  An employer may require verification of caregiver responsibilities and can deny the request for bona fide business reasons but must specify the reasons in writing.  Permissible reasons for denying a request include:

(1) The identifiable cost of the change in a term or condition of employment requested in the application, including but not limited to the cost of productivity loss, retraining or hiring Employees or transferring Employees from one facility to another facility.

(2) Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer or client demands. (3) Inability to organize work among other Employees. (4) Insufficiency of work to be performed during the time the employee proposes to work.

This Ordinance also specifies that it shall be unlawful for any employer to interfere with or restrain any of these rights, or to take any adverse employment action against any person on the basis of “caregiver status” or for exercising rights protected under the Ordinance.  The ordinance also requires employers to post a notice advising employees of these rights in a conspicuous place at any workplace in the City in English, Spanish, Chinese and any language spoken by at least 5 percent of the employees at the workplace.

Employers should be careful to promptly and thoughtfully respond to requests for flexible work arrangements.  The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement is the agency charged with enforcement of this law.

Gabrielle Wirth

Employers turn to Gabrielle for guidance on how they can comply with the technical employment laws in California, Montana and nationwide while meeting their business needs. Her successful trial experience in a broad range of employment disputes includes wage and hour, whistleblower, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, and trade secret/noncompetition cases. She also represents employers before a wide variety of state and federal agencies including the EEOC, OFCCP, state human rights agencies, the Labor Commission, the Employment Development Department and OSHA.

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