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San Francisco becomes 1st city in nation to require full leave for parents

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    Alphonzo Jackson, center, held his six-month old son Isaiah as he spoke with San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, left, before a rally supporting paid family leave at City Hall in San Francisco today. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the measure after supporters said six weeks of fully paid leave is needed because too many families can’t afford to take time off after a child is born or adopted.

SAN FRANCISCO » San Francisco approved a measure today making it the first place in the nation to require businesses to provide fully paid leave for new parents.

Advocates say the issue is gaining momentum across the country much like the debate over a higher minimum wage.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the measure after supporters said six weeks of fully paid leave is needed because too many families can’t afford to take time off after a child is born or adopted.

Small business owners countered that it’s the latest in a long list of city mandates— including paid sick leave and health coverage— that unfairly targets them.

The U.S. lags other countries in providing parental leave.

Federal law grants workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. California, Rhode Island and New Jersey provide partial pay, with the money coming from employees. Legislators in New York last month approved up to 12 weeks of partial pay.

The state of California currently allows workers to receive 55 percent of their pay for up to six weeks to bond with a new child. The money comes from a state insurance program funded by workers.

The San Francisco measure requires employers with at least 20 employees to make up the rest.

Some private employers such as Netflix are generous with leave as a way to retain workers, and people who work for the city and county of San Francisco are entitled to 12 weeks of full pay.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who pushed for paid leave, has said the benefit is another step toward addressing income inequality, much like the $15 hourly minimum wage legislation that California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Monday and San Francisco approved for workers in 2014.

“The vast majority of workers in this country have little or no access to paid parental leave, and that needs to change,” he said at a news conference before today’s vote.

Among the dozen or so attendees was Kim Turner, a nonprofit attorney who took advantage of the state parental leave program. She says full paid leave would have been better.

“I do think employers should be pitching in more,” she said. “I think we all need more help. It’s just so hard to make ends meet with little ones in the house.”

A group representing small businesses disagreed.

“They don’t necessarily have the resources, they can’t absorb the increases in cost, and they feel like it’s kind of relentless, it’s one thing after the next,” said Dee Dee Workman, vice president of public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses with at least 50 employees must comply starting in January 2017. Businesses with at least 20 employees have until January 2018 to comply.

AP writer Terence Chea contributed to this report.

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  • Well intention law that will cripple small business or put married women less desired than single women. What kind of company can absorb paying 12 weeks of pay to an employee who is not there generating revenue? Furthermore absorb it 3 or more times in 3 years.
    Hawaii’s TDI law is a very reasonable way to deal with giving birth and allowing Mom’s to stay home for a period of time.

    • I can see your point, but do you know on average how this is going to affect companies? That is, out of a hundred workers, what percentage of those will take advantage of the program? Also, as noted, many parts of the western world already have similar programs, and they continue to survive. Have you considered that let’s say you have an accounting staff of 3 on salary, 1 goes out on 3 month leave, the other 2 do the 3rd’s work, no loss to the company. Just extra work for the employees.

      • I like when I can agree with you once and a while Kiragirl. There is so much wrong with this from so many social and economic angles that I don’t even know where to start. I will just make one point. Absolutely no one bonds with a baby in 6 weeks, 12 weeks or even 16 weeks. Mother needs to stay home and raise her own kids and father needs to work his arse off to make it happen!

  • This is what happens when you let extreme leftists run your state. Calif is near bankrupt, yet Jerry decides they have to have a rail line from La to SF. This current insanity will further restrict businesses, and along with the raise in minimum wage will probably be the final nail. It paves the way for raising union wages. California is a mess. It’s social fabric has been decimated. It’s religious tolerance obliterated.

    • And San Francisco is at the epicenter of technology and the financial hub of the entire west coast. Show me a conservative state and/city, and I’ll show you an uneducated, underemployed, underinsured, and a dearth of both diversity and young people. Facts, not platitudes you effete knave of a person.

      • Yousofunny. Only an effete knave would use the term “effete knave”. Oh, yeah. Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore. When you’re finished rationalizing the massive failure of the leftist blue model in these democrat nirvanas we can talk about the flaws of conservatives.

  • Six weeks of full paid leave along with $15/hr minimum wage ?

    Small business owners start packing up your bags.

    Here in Hawaii we have our legislators (term limits needed) mandate healthcare benefits for employees working a minimum 20/hrs paid for by the small business owners. California is optional whether they want to provide healthcare benefits or not as long as it’s not discriminatory.

    Also small business(HI)owners must pay TDI in case female employees need maternity leave.

    Hawaii state also requires small business to collect (for FREE) ‘GET’ from their clients without compensation to the SBO for administrative, envelope/stamps, maintaining GET tax ledgers to distribute to the county tax collector on a quarterly basis.

    • Wow! That’s the entirety of your argument, others do it? Sounds a bit middle schoo-lish and backed by the same level of thinking that accompanied the the California $15 minimum wage. Now, before you rush to your thesaurus for a cup of ad hominem, the idea is only “bad” if unaccompanied by a realistic assessment of unintended economic consequences.*

      *Liberal/progressive social engineering never considers secondary consequences, the reality of human nature, or unintended impacts.

  • Smart businesses will start hiring more men or seniors who are less likely to have kids than young women. When that happens, someone will scream discrimination. I would not be surprised if the San Francisco Board of Supervisors then passes a law mandating that businesses hire a certain percentage of women of child-bearing age.

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