Excellent news for San Francisco workers! The State of San Francisco will provide workers with children or other dependants with the benefit of changing their hours, telecommuting or sharing job duties under a new law that will essentially mark the first time a U.S. city green-lights the accommodation of flexible workplace arrangements by employers.
The new legislation will be in effect from January 2014 and it involves the following:
- Employers will be required to give a written answer stating a business reason for denying a request (e.g. increased costs)
- The rule will not concern businesses with less than 20 employees.
- Apart from those with children, the regulation will also apply to workers with sick spouses and elderly parents.
- Employers must meet with employees within 21 days of their requests for flexible work arrangements
- Business owners are required to inform workers and make their new rights publicly available.
It is hoped that this rule will contribute to making a real change in the city’s workplace culture and help eradicate the stigma and prejudice around employees who request flexible working arrangements.
Under the ordinance, employers who fail to follow the new rules could be fined up to up to $50 per employee each day the business is in violation. San Francisco reserves the right to take civil action through the city attorney against an employer who refuses to comply with the mandate.
San Francisco’s step to become the first in the nation to welcome more flexible workplaces through legislation will mean a lot to workers and the city itself, which has the lowest per capita population of children of any major U.S. city. One is the city will become more attractive to families who will feel more empowered to contribute to the city’s economy. Second, the rule will safeguard and augment workers’ rights which could ultimately increase their motivation and productivity at work. Last but not least, the new measure will compel employers become more accountable and responsible towards their employees.
So, well done San Francisco! I wish more states and countries abroad adopted such liberal steps to improve labor conditions and strengthen the relationship between employers and workers.