San Francisco Updates Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO)

On July 12, 2022, San Francisco’s new Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO) amendments go into effect — so make sure you understand the new changes if you have any employees working in San Francisco, including those who work remotely!

Originally going into effect in January 2014, San Francisco’s FFWO provides legal protection to employees who act as caregivers for certain family members. As a reminder, the FFWO applies to employers with 20 or more employees and gives employees the right to request flexible or predictable work arrangements so they can fulfill caregiving responsibilities. Employees covered by the ordinance must:  

  • Be employed in San Francisco (Note: Under the FFWO amendments, “employee” includes those who telework out of San Francisco, in addition to employees who physically work at a jobsite in San Francisco.);
  • Be employed for six months or more by their current employer; and
  • Work at least eight hours per week on a regular basis.

On May 27, 2022, the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) expanded the protections of the FFWO through new amendments and published Proposed Rules Implementing the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance. The amendments were largely implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the city notes, “The global COVID-19 pandemic placed great strains on caregivers in families, with the impacts felt most dramatically among economically and socially vulnerable populations.”

Going into effect on July 12, 2022, the amendments include the following changes:

  • The FFWO now requires a good faith interactive process before a flexible or predictable working arrangement may be rejected.
  • If an employee’s request for a flexible or predicable working arrangement has been rejected, he or she may submit a request for reconsideration. The employer must inform the employee of its final decision on the request for reconsideration in writing within 14 days after they meet, instead of the previous 21-day time limit.
  • The FFWO broadened its application to include care of a person 65 years or older in a “family relationship” with the employee. Previously, this 65-year-old person had to be a parent. “Family relationship” is defined as a relationship in which a caregiver is related by blood, legal custody, marriage or domestic partnership to another person as a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, grandchild or grandparent.
  • The FFWO now protects employees teleworking out of San Francisco. “Telework” means an employee’s work for an employer from the employee’s residence or other location that is not an office or worksite of the employer if the employer maintains an office or worksite within the geographic boundaries of the city at which the employee may work, or prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was permitted to work.
  • Increases the authority of San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards to enforce the ordinance.

The new amendments also strengthen the FFWO by permitting employees to maintain a flexible or predictable working arrangement unless the arrangement would cause the employer undue hardship. Bases for undue hardship include, but may not be limited to:

  • The identifiable costs directly caused by the flexible or predictable workplace arrangement, such as the cost of productivity loss, retraining or hiring employees, or transferring employees from one facility to another;
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer or client demands;
  • Inability to organize work among other employees; and
  • Insufficiency of work to be performed during the time or at the location the employee proposes work.

Employers will need to replace their current FFWO notice poster with an updated version that includes the above amendments. However, the OSLE has not yet published an updated notice. CalChamber is closely monitoring the City’s current efforts to update their required postings.

California cities and counties continue to pass local ordinances affecting businesses. Most recently, San Francisco voters approved Proposition G, which creates a permanent public health emergency leave ordinance that will take effect on October 1, 2022. These are provisional results based on the June 7, 2022, election. Stay tuned to HRWatchdog for more information.

CalChamber’s free Local Ordinance Wizard can help determine the local ordinances and labor law posters that apply to your business or location(s).

Sarah Woolston, Employment Law Subject Matter Expert, CalChamber

CalChamber members can read more about other San Francisco local ordinances, including Paid Parental Leave, Drug Testing Regulations and the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, on HRCalifornia. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.

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