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March 2022: San Francisco Issues Updated Guidance on Paid Sick Leave

01 Mar


Update Applicable to:
All employers in the city of San Francisco, California

What happened?
On February 2, 2022, the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) issued new guidance pertaining to the use of Paid Sick Leave. This new guidance supersedes OLSE’s guidance from March 24, 2020.

What are the details?
The OLSE has temporarily amended Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (PSLO) Rule 2.3.  Previously, the OLSE stated that during the pandemic, employer policies that required employees to provide verification of paid sick leave for time off of three days or less (a doctor’s note) would be “presumptively unreasonable.”

Effective immediately, the number of sick days an employee can take before an employee may be required to provide documentation has increased from three to five consecutive scheduled workdays.  This means that a policy or practice that requires an employee to provide documentation, such as a doctor’s note, for paid sick leave lasting five or fewer consecutive workdays will be deemed “presumptively unreasonable.” Employers can still, however, require documentation of the use of paid sick leave for more than five full or partial consecutive workdays, provided that when an employee uses paid sick leave for COVID-19–related reasons and is not under a doctor’s care, the employer must accept the employee’s attestation of their need for paid sick leave pursuant to current CDC guidelines.  Rule 2.4 (dealing with situations of a pattern or clear instance of abuse by an employee) remains in effect.

The amendments to Rule 2.3 will remain in effect for the duration of the local health emergency unless the OLSE revokes them sooner.

Employee Use of Paid Sick Leave
Under the new guidance, the different circumstances where employers covered by the PLSO must allow covered employees to use accrued sick leave have slightly changed.

An employee can no longer take time off work because they fall within the definition of a “vulnerable population.” Instead, an employee can now use paid sick leave to get their COVID-19 vaccine or to deal with the side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine. Further, an employee can now use paid sick leave to provide care for a family member who is experiencing vaccination side effects or to attend a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

As of February 2, 2022, the situations where employees can use accrued paid sick leave if they need to take time off work are as follows:

  • Public health officials or healthcare providers require or recommend an employee isolate or quarantine;
  • The employee takes time off work for a COVID-19 vaccination or because the employee is dealing with COVID-19 vaccination side effects;
  • The employee’s business or work location temporarily halts operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation – subject to the “Eligibility for Paid Sick Leave” guidelines in the February 2, 2022 guidance;
  • The employee needs to provide care for a family member to attend a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, who is experiencing vaccination side effects, or who is not sick but who public health officials or healthcare providers have required or recommended isolate or quarantine;
  • The employee needs to provide care for a family member whose school, childcare provider, senior care provider, or work temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation.

For more information, please see the links below:

San Francisco OLSE Guidance


What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links above that were provided by the law firm, Weintraub Tobin, and adjust their paid sick leave policies to stay in compliance with the amended law.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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