Nov 14, 2013

San Francisco Enacts New Ordinance Granting Employees the Right to Request Flexible Working Arrangements

San Francisco continues to lead the way regarding progressive work policies for employees enacting a new flexible working arrangement ordinance that will take effect on January 1, 2014.  The ordinance allows employees who have worked for their employer for a period of six months or more to request a flexible working schedule if the employee assists with the caregiving responsibilities of a child, a family member with a serious health condition, or a parent who is at least 65 years old.  Such a request may include, but is not limited to, changes involving:

  • The number of hours the employee is required to work;
  • The times when the employee is required to work;
  • Where the employee is required to work;
  • Work assignments or other factors, or
  • The predictability of a work schedule.

The employee must request the arrangement in writing and include the date that the arrangement becomes effective, the duration of the agreement, and how the request is related to caregiving.  An employer may deny the request if it can show a bona fide reason for the denial such as the significant costs of complying with such a demand, the loss of the ability to meet customer or client demands, the inability to delegate the duties to other employees, or the insufficiency of the work performed by the employee during the proposed time.

The employee may make a request for a flexible working schedule twice every twelve months, unless the employee experiences a major life event, in which case the employee may make an additional request.  If the employer denies the request, the employee may submit a request for reconsideration in writing within 30 days of the decision.  The employer then must arrange a meeting to discuss the request to take place within 21 days after receiving notice of the request for reconsideration.  The employer then has 21 days from the date of the meeting to issue its final decision.

The rule also protects employees from any retaliation by the employer in response to a request.  Moreover, employers will be required to make available to employees a poster that the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement will publish informing employees of their rights under the new ordinance.  The poster must be placed in a conspicuous area and contain notices in English, Spanish, Chinese and any other language spoken by at least five percent of the employees at the workplace or job site.  Furthermore, employers must retain any documentation required under the law for a period of three years from the date of the request for the flexible arrangement. The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the new law and investigating any possible violation.    

If you have any questions regarding the new ordinance, please do not hesitate to contact your labor and employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP

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