Supes to vote on mandatory parental leave for SF companies

Legislation that would require San Francisco companies to provide fully paid parental leave to employees was approved in committee Wednesday and will go before the full Board of Supervisors next month.

The legislation, introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener, would require employers with 20 employees or more to make up the difference between state disability payments and an employee’s full income for the first six weeks of parental leave. Currently, state law provides up to 55 percent of wages to eligible employees for the first six weeks.

The legislation would cover both mothers and fathers, but would not apply in cases where employers provide benefits that equal or exceed those in the ordinance.

Amendments approved Wednesday include the removal of the private right of action, meaning the law would not give individuals the right to bring private lawsuits, and tiered compliance dates giving smaller companies more time to make the needed changes.

The legislation has the backing of groups including Equal Rights Advocates, the California Work and Family Coalition and the Legal Aid Society, as well as the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women and the Youth Commission.

Business groups and nonprofits have expressed concerns about likely impacts on their bottom line and ability to provide jobs and services.

A city controller’s office report released on Tuesday found that the legislation’s cost to local businesses could outweigh the economic benefits of increased income for claimants. The report estimated the negative net economic impact at somewhere between $42 million and $79 million, or the loss of between 250 and 480 jobs.

That impact is relatively small in the context of the city’s GDP, which is currently estimated at approximately $145 billion, the approximately 17,000 jobs the city’s economy has added each year on average since 2004, the report notes.

The legislation is expected to be heard by the full board on April 5.