Proposed SF law would help domestic workers earn sick leave

‘We are going to make it easy for employers to participate’

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen on Tuesday introduced legislation to secure access to paid time off for domestic workers, ensuring compensation in the face of an illness or emergency.

Under The City’s current paid sick leave ordinance, domestic workers have the right to accumulate paid sick leave. However, because most workers are employed by multiple employers, it’s nearly impossible for them to accrue enough hours from one single employer to get even one day of paid sick leave, according to officials with the California Domestic Workers Coalition.

The newly proposed access to paid time off ordinance would create a centralized account — available via an app — to which employers could contribute and that workers could access. The app would be created through The City’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development, according to Ronen, who authored the ordinance.

On Tuesday afternoon, more than 150 domestic workers and their supporters held a rally outside of San Francisco City Hall, calling on supervisors to support the ordinance.

“We want to make it easy for domestic workers and employers to comply with the law,” Ronen said.

“For the first time in history since 2016, when the first sick leave ordinance passed, domestic workers are going to have the right to get sick, the right to take care of their kids and their families, and get paid time off,” she said.

“We’re going to make sure not only that this passes, but it is enforced because our domestic workers do everything, take care of our children, take care of our homes, take care of our families and do it all while they all have their own children and families to take care of,” said Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton.

“We in San Francisco are making a commitment that we’re going to turn this around,” said Supervisor Myrna Melgar. “That domestic workers will have dignity, they will have respect and they will have justice for what we all know they do to take care of us.”

Melgar, who moved to the U.S. from El Salvador when she was young, said she and her family worked as domestic workers, cleaning homes and offices when she was growing up.

“We are going to make it easy for employers to participate because we want to be the leaders of this movement, so that it is replicated all over the Bay Area,” she said.

The ordinance may be up for vote by supervisors sometime in early December.

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