Descriptive Title: Proportion of public- and private-sector workers with paid sick days

Geographic Unit of Analysis: County

100% of public- and private-sector workers in San Francisco are required by law to receive paid sick days benefits.

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

Workers without of sick leave benefits are more likely to come to work sick because they need the money or feel vulnerable in their jobs. This increases the risk of communicable disease transmission to co-workers, and in some occupations such as food service, increases disease transmission risks to the general public. The lack of sick leave benefits also makes employees less able to take the time needed to recover from illness or to care of sick relatives and children. Many of the admissions to hospitals for chronic illnesses such as asthma, hypertension, and diabetes are avoidable with timely and effective outpatient and primary care. The provision of sick day benefits would reduce hospitalizations for such conditions along with their high economic costs. Overall, the provision of sick days provides the following significant benefits to employees:

  • Ability to promptly access health care and recover from illness without being fired
  • Ability to take care of children, parents, or partners when needed
  • Increased ability to access preventative health care
  • Reduced likelihood of infecting others (i.e., at work, school, or childcare)
  • Ability to take care of sick children at home, rather than in child-care center
  • Decreased mental stress/anxiety about sick family members
  • Increased financial stability and improved quality of life
  • Decreased length of recovery times

For more research on the relationship between paid sick days and health, visit: http://www.sfhealthequity.org/component/jdownloads/viewcategory/32-paid-sick-days?Itemid=62

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

Proposition F, the San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, was adopted by San Francisco voters on November 7, 2006, with 61% of voters voting in favor of the measure. Proposition F is codified in Chapter 12W of the San Francisco Administrative Code. Prior to the passage of Proposition F, 23% of San Francisco workers (n = 115,791) did not have paid sick leave benefits. The Ordinance required that beginning February 5, 2007, all employers must provide paid sick leave to each employee who performs work in San Francisco.

This is defined as any person who performs work, including on a part-time or temporary basis, within San Francisco for an employer. For employees working for an employer on or before February 5, 2007, paid sick leave begins to accrue on that date. For employees hired by an employer after February 5, 2007, paid sick leave begins to accrue 90 calendar days after the employee's first day of work.

For every 30 hours worked, an employee accrues one hour of paid sick leave. For employees of employers for which fewer than 10 persons work for compensation during a given week, there is a cap of 40 hours (5 days) of accrued paid sick leave. For employees of other employers, there is a cap of 72 hours (9 days) of accrued paid sick leave. The accrued paid sick leave caps are for a given point in time. They are not annual caps. Accrued paid sick leave does not expire; it carries over from year-to-year. There is no cap on how much paid sick leave an employee may use in a year. Paid sick leave can be used when the employee is ill or injured or for the purpose of receiving medical care, treatment, or diagnosis; and to aid or care for a family member or designated person when that person is ill, injured, or receiving medical care, treatment, or diagnosis.

Limitations

It is important to note that there remain many San Francisco workers who do not receive paid sick days benefits, either because employers have not implemented the law or because workers do not realize they are eligible.  While there is an enforcement mechanism, resources for enforcement are limited and is currently based on complaints about employers.  Employers must post a notice informing employees of their rights in a location where employees can read it easily. Employers must retain records documenting hours worked by employees and paid sick leave taken by employees, for a period of four years, and shall allow Office of Labor Standards Enforcement access to such records. Finally, employees who are denied their rights under the law may file a complaint with the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.

More details about the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance are available at: http://www.sfgov.org/site/olse_index.asp?id=49389

Data Source

San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, http://www.sfgov.org/site/olse_index.asp?id=49389.