Mayor London Breed on Thursday announced changes to city paid leave policies. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

City employees can now use an advance of their paid time off

Policy intended to benefit those affected by coronavirus

Mayor London Breed announced Thursday a new city policy to allow government employees to use an advance on their paid sick leave or vacation time if impacted by the coronavirus.

Under the policy, those who work for the city can request an advance of sick leave or vacation time up to 80 hours if they have exhausted their current paid time off balance.

When the employee returns to work they will have to work long enough to replenish the leave that was advanced before they can take additional time off.

In announcing the policy Thursday, Breed is calling on private businesses to offer a similar opportunity for their own employees who may be impacted by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. It also comes as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased from 14 to 18.

“The City is leading by example to slow the spread of COVID-19, and that includes allowing people to take time off if they are sick or need to take care of someone else,” Breed said in a statement. “Public health is our top priority, and we want people to be able to follow our public health recommendations without fear of not having enough vacation days or sick leave and missing a paycheck.”

Breed said that “we strongly encourage other companies in San Francisco to enact similar policies.”

Through the policy change it is hoped that workers would follow recommendations to not show up to work if they feel sick and self-isolate when necessary.

Micki Callahan, The City’s Human Resources director, said in a statement that The City is “working around the clock to implement every preventative measure possible to slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

“This new policy allows our employees to care for themselves and their families without fear of losing their income during this emergency,” Callahan said. “When employees who may have been exposed to the coronavirus, lack paid sick leave, it presents a great risk to our ability to protect the health of the public.”

City employees can have access to the advance paid leave under certain criteria, including if they are considered a vulnerable population, such as if aged 60 and older or if they have underlying health conditions.

Those who must self-isolate or quarantine on advice of a medical provider and those who are suffering from an acute respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms are also eligible.

The advance time off can also be used by those who need to care for a family member impacted by the virus.

To have access to advance paid leave, a city employee must have exhausted all of their existing leave, including vacation days, floating holidays, and paid sick leave.

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