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What You Need To Know in 2019 Series: San Francisco Specific Updates

What You Need To Know in 2019 Series:
San Francisco Specific Updates
3 of 6

San Francisco 2019 Updates

This year a variety of changes and expansions are happening to San Francisco regulations. Do you know what you have to do as an employer and when? Read more about these important updates to San Francisco law below.

San Francisco’s Fair Chance Ordinance Expansion:

What Is It?: San Francisco’s “Fair Chance Ordinance” prohibits employers from inquiring about, requiring disclosure of, or basing employment decisions on an applicant’s criminal conviction history until after a conditional job offer.

  • The October 2018 Amendments significantly expanded the scope of the law and potential liability exposure of employers.
    • The scope of the ordinance is now expanded to cover employers with five or more employees (whether those five employees work inside or outside the city), that hire for positions that will require work of at least eight hours per week within the city. This work includes temporary, seasonal, part-time, contract, contingent, and commission-based work. The original law applied to employers with twenty or more employees.
    • Employers are now restricted from inquiring about, requiring disclosure of, and/or using applicants’ and employees’ arrest and conviction information in an employment decision until after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment.
    • Employers are further restricted from asking about or using convictions for decriminalized behavior, such as convictions for the noncommercial use and cultivation of cannabis.
    • Penalties for violations are increased to $500 for a first violation; $1,000 for a second violation; and $2,000 for subsequent violations. This significantly increases the potential exposure for employers.
    • Affected individuals can now sue employers directly.  (Previously, only City Attorney could sue.)
    • Employers must now pay penalties to persons affected instead of to the City of San Francisco.
      • This could encourage some individuals to misuse the law by applying for numerous positions in the hope that a company’s application/policies are not compliant with current law.
  • Additional Compliance Requirements:
    • Covered employers must post an updated four-page notice/poster, which explains the ordinance in four different languages (English, Chinese, Spanish, and Tagalog)
    • Employers are required to “post this notice in English, Spanish, Chinese, and any other language spoken by at least 5% of the employees at the workplace or job site.”
    • Employers must also provide the notice/poster to applicants and employees, in all four languages, before conducting criminal background checks.
    • Covered employers must complete and submit the City’s “Employer Annual Reporting Form” by April 30 each year. The form includes information regarding the employer’s compliance with the ordinance.


What Should Employers Do About the Fair Chance Ordinance Expansion?

  • Review employment applications and offer letters to ensure they comply with the amended ordinance
  • Ensure hiring manuals and company policies comply with the amended ordinance
  • Ensure hiring managers and human resources employees are trained and understand the prohibited areas of inquiry both before and after making a conditional job offer
  • NOTE: California also has a statewide “Ban the Box” law. Click here to read more

San Francisco Paid Parental Leave:

  • SF employers (of 20+ employees) must pay the difference between an employee’s California Paid Family Leave benefit (55% of weekly wages) and the employee’s normal gross weekly wages (an additional 45%) to reach 100% of normal wages (subject to cap) for six weeks.
  • The amount paid by employers will decrease as state benefit increases between 2018 and 2022 (AB 908).
  • Law gradually increases in coverage from larger employers (50+ employees) to smaller employers (20+ employees).

Lactation Accommodation:

  • Effective January 1, 2018, San Francisco’s “LACTATION IN THE WORKPLACE” ordinance further increased protections for nursing mothers working within the geographical boundaries of San Francisco, including part-time employees.
  • The City’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) was able to enforce the ordinance and issue warnings and notices to correct in 2018. Beginning January 1, 2019, the OLSE may issue determinations and penalties.
  • The Ordinance requires employers to provide employees desiring to express breast milk reasonable break time and a private location other than a bathroom.
  • However, the San Francisco ordinance goes farther in its requirements by stating that the area must:
    • Be safe and clean;
    • Have a surface to place a breast pump and other personal items;
    • Provide a place to sit; and
    • Have access to electricity.
  • Employers must also:
    • provide the employee access to a refrigerator and a sink with running water in close proximity to the employee’s work area.
  • Employers do not have to make accommodations that would result in “undue hardship,” such as having to build a room, undertake construction or remove retail space or restaurant seating.
  • Employers must also create and distribute a written lactation accommodation policy, which must include information on how to request an accommodation.
  • Employers will have to keep records relating to accommodation requests for three years.

San Francisco Salary History Ban:

  • Effective July 1, 2018, the “Pay Parity Ordinance” prohibits employers registered to do business in San Francisco from:
    • Inquiring about an applicant’s current and past salary history;
    • Considering or relying upon an applicant’s salary history as a factor in determining whether to hire the applicant or what pay to offer the applicant;
      • If the applicant discloses salary history voluntarily and “without prompting,” the employer may consider the salary history in determining the salary.
      • However, consistent with state law, salary history cannot justify paying an employee of a different sex, race or ethnicity less for doing substantially similar work under similar working conditions.
  • Refusing to hire or retaliating against an applicant for not disclosing salary history; and
  • Releasing a current or former employee’s salary history to a prospective employer without written authorization of the current or former employee. (Exceptions apply where disclosure is required by law or where the information is publicly available or subject to a collective bargaining agreement).
  • The OLSE was able to enforce the Pay Parity Ordinance and issue warnings and notices to correct for the first year. Beginning July 1, 2019, the OLSE may issue determinations and penalties and also possibly refer a matter to the City Attorney, who may initiate a civil action.
  • NOTE: California also has a statewide salary history law. Click here to read more

Also Be Aware Of These Other New or Updated Regulations:

  • Health Care Security Ordinance (20 or more employees)
  • Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (20 or more employees)
  • Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinances (Formula Retail establishments)

For more information on all of the San Francisco special ordinances (and to download posters) visit:

This update is the third of six, don’t miss out on the remainder of the
What You Need To Know in 2019 Series.

What You Need To Know in 2019 Series: Federal Empl...
What You Need to Know in 2019 Series: California's...

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