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San Francisco, CA Public Health Emergency Leave

July 20, 2022

On June 7, 2022, San Francisco voters passed legislation that requires eligible employers to provide Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) to eligible employees. This ordinance goes into effect on October 1, 2022 and is in addition to paid leave that is already provided by employers.
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At a Glance

  • Effective October 1, 2022.
  • San Francisco, CA employers with 100 or more employees worldwide must provide Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL).
  • On October 1, 2022 Employers are required to provide at least 40 hours of leave.
  • On January 1, 2023 Employees are eligible for no more than 80 hours of leave (there is no accrual requirement).

Introduction

On June 7, 2022, San Francisco voters passed legislation that requires eligible employers to provide Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) to eligible employees. This ordinance goes into effect on October 1, 2022 and is in addition to paid leave that is already provided by employers.

Eligibility

PHEL will apply to employers with 100 or more employees worldwide. For employers with a unionized workforce, the ordinance will not apply to employees covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that expressly waives the ordinance’s requirements. Employees are only eligible for PHEL when the city of San Francisco or the State of California declares a Public Health Emergency or if there is an air quality emergency that would be issued bythe Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Amount of Leave

On October 1, 2022, and then on January 1 of each following year, employers must provide PHEL to employees when a Public Health Emergency is declared. The amount of leave must not exceed 80 hours.

  • Full time employees or employees with regular, or a fixed work schedule: An amount equal to the number of hours the employee regularly works or takes paid leave over a two week period.
  • Employees with variable hours: An amount equal to:
  • the average number of hours the employee worked or took paid leave over a two week period during the previous calendar year (or during the previous six months if not employed on October 1 or January 1), or
  • since the employee’s start date if after the beginning of the previous calendar year (or since the employee’s start date if employed for fewer than six months if not employed on October 1 or January 1).
  • Employers are not required to allow for carryover of unused leave from 12-month benefit period into the next.

Between the dates of October 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022, employers may calculate the amount of leave entitlement using a one-week period and are only required to provide 40 hours of PHEL.

Offset Note: For the rest of 2022, employers may reduce how much PHEL an employee is entitledto (after October 1, 2022) if employees use certain types of leave or PTO for the following reasons:

  • Paid leave or paid time off employees may use for covered PHEL reasons under the ordinance that employers voluntarily provide; or
  • California COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) if the state extends SPSL requirements beyond September 30, 2022.

Acceptable Uses of Leave

Employees may use PHEL for the following reasons:

  • Recommendations or requirements of an individual or general federal, state, or local health order – including an order issued by the local jurisdiction where an employee resides – related to the public health emergency, or the employee is caring for a family membersubject to such an order;
  • A healthcare provider advises an employee to isolate or quarantine, or the employee iscaring for a family member who has been so advised;
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of and seeking a medical diagnosis, or has received a positive medical diagnosis, for a possible infectious, contagious, or communicable disease associated with the public health emergency, or the employee is caring for a family member who is experiencing symptoms;
  • The employee is caring for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed, or whose care provider is unavailable, due to the public health emergency; and 
  • An air quality emergency, if the employee primarily works outdoors and is a member of a vulnerable population, i.e., diagnosed with heart or lung disease; has respiratory problems including but not limited to asthma, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; is pregnant; or is age 60 or older.

See ordinance for additional information on acceptable uses for healthcare or emergency responder employees.

Rate of Pay

Public Health Emergency Leave requires employees to be paid at the same rate of pay calculations as San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.

  • For overtime-exempt employees, employers pay PHEL in the same way they pay other forms of paid leave.
  • For non-exempt employees, employers pay PHEL using either the regular rate for the work week in which the employee uses PHEL, regardless of whether the employee works overtime that workweek, or by dividing total wages (excluding overtime premiums) by total hours worked in the full pay periods of the 90 days of employment before PHEL use.

The PHEL rate of pay cannot be less than the San Francisco minimum wage ($16.99). Employersmust pay PHEL no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the employee uses PHEL.

Notice and Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers must clearly post the agency provided notices in all of the following languages; English, Spanish, Chinese, Filipino, and any other language spoken by more than 5% of the San Francisco workforce. Employers may also provide the notice to employees via electronic communication, which may include email, text, and/or a clear posting on an employer’s web or app-based platform. Similar to the state of California’s paid sick leave law, the Public Health Emergency Leave must list available hours on the paystub.


For more information on California's wage and payroll tax laws, check out our California Wage and Payroll Tax Facts page.


 

Next Steps

Paylocity will have the requirements setup in the system prior to the effective date.

Thank you for choosing Paylocity as your Payroll Tax and HCM partner. This information is provided as a courtesy, may change and isnot intended as legal or tax guidance. Employers with questions or concerns outside the scope of a Payroll Service Provider areencouraged to seek the advice of a qualified CPA, Tax Attorney or Advisor.

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