By:  Duyen T. Nguyen

This law would create a “right to request” for San Francisco employees who are caregivers for children or dependents the right to make requests of their employers for changes to their working arrangements in order to meet caregiving responsibilities. An employer would have a duty to consider and respond to an employee’s request.

A request could be for a flexible work arrangement or greater scheduling predictability. Examples of flexible work arrangements include a change in start or end times, part-time schedules, part-year schedules, job sharing, and telecommuting. Workplace predictability refers to the assurance that workers will know their work schedules with adequate advance notice so they can make caregiving arrangements for dependent family members.

The proposed law outlines procedures for how an employee could make a request for flexibility or scheduling predictability and the process of employers to consider such requests. The ordinance also outlines “undue hardship” reasons to allow businesses to deny a request, including an increase in cost to the business (including productivity loss and the costs of retraining, transferring, or hiring employees), a negative impact on the ability to meet customer demands, an inability to organize work among remaining employees, and an insufficiency of working during the time requested by an employee. When a request is declined, an employer would be obliged to provide the reason for its decision in writing.

Employees would have to work for a business for at least six months in order to have the “right to request,” and small businesses under 10 employees would be exempt from the law because of the challenges they likely would face granting flexibility with so few employees.

The ordinance is introduced by San Francisco Board of Supervisor President David Chiu and will come up for a vote in November.