San Francisco is First U.S. City to Mandate a Flexible Workplace; Where will be next?

San Francisco is the first city in the U.S. to pass a law that requires employers who employ more than 20 individuals to give workers with children and other dependents greater flexibility when it comes to changing hours, telecommuting and sharing job duties. The new law requires that when an employee makes a request that the employer must state and document a business reason (such as increased costs) if the request is denied. When it comes to creating flexible workplaces, the Bay Area has been a constant topic of conversation – remember Yahoo!’s telecommuting policy change in February.

This new legislation marks the first city in the nation to make flexible schedules in the workplace an employee right. SF Supervisor David Chiu shared that the goal is to make the city more inviting to families. According to Chiu, San Francisco currently “has the lowest per capita population of children of any major U.S. city.” The Society for Human Resource Management shared that while they are in favor of flexible workplace policies they are also concerned with the mandatory aspect of the ordinance as it opens up legality issues for employers.

While you may or may not agree on whether this should be a mandate, we are beginning to see that more states and cities are looking into making this an employer mandate. If you don’t have a policy in place for flexible work arrangements, now would be a good time to determine your organization’s approach and get it documented. It’s important to know what will work well for your environment. For example, will telecommuting work for your organization?

For San Francisco employers, here’s what you need to know:

  • The ordinance goes into effect January 1, 2014 and applies to all organizations employing more than 20 employees.
  • This applies to individuals with children as well as employees with sick spouses and elderly parents.
  • You must meet with an employee within 21 days of their request “for such arrangements as partial instead of full-time work, shift changes, telecommuting or job sharing.”
  • In the case that a request is denied, the employer is required to provide written documentation detailing the reasons why it was denied.
  • Employers are also required to inform employees about their rights by posting information about this new law. If this information is not posted an employer could be fined up to $50 per employee per day.

We’d love to hear what your organization is doing to provide a flexible workplace, and if in San Francisco, what you are anticipating will happen in the new year.

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Every day, I focus on helping businesses find the HR or recruiting solution that will allow their businesses to succeed, employees to grow, and ultimately communities to flourish.