Supervisor wants wage rules for independent contractors

City residents hiring teenagers to baby-sit, dog walkers or other “moonlighters” could be required to pay them minimum wage and keep records of the transaction or risk being taken to court under proposed new legislation.

A little-noticed ordinance sponsored by Supervisor Chris Daly would establish wage rules for independent contractors who perform “personal services” in The City. Up until now, there have been no wage rules for the legions of self-employed manual laborers, freelance grass cutters and others who perform work around The City, but aren’t employed by a business or nonprofit corporation. Under the legislation, the workers would have to receive at least $8.82 an hour if they work 20 or more hours a month at the job.

The legislation requires employers to keep pay records for six months after the term of the contract, and it applies to contracts that are made orally or in writing. Under the ordinance, contractors who feel they have not received the minimum rate can file a claim with The City’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement. If their challenge is upheld, employers could be required to pay back wages.

Daly said the ordinance is intended to make sure all city workers are fairly compensated, especially since independent contractors often have fewer safeguards than those who work for a company.

“We want to make sure workers who are contracted receive at least minimum wage,” Daly said. “It could significantly affect newspaper vendors, among others.”

But some city officials and contractors worry it would stretch already thin city resources and create unnecessary headaches for some employers.

“The Office of Labor Standards has already asked for an increase in funding for it’s staff — this could potentially be more work,” City Controller Ed Harrington said.

Harrington was referring to an annual $39 fee the Board of Supervisors is thinking about instituting on more than 31,000 businesses around The City to increase funding for the OLSE. OLSE officials said they already have a backlog of minimum wage cases that they haven’t been able to address.

Marco Terez, a San Francisco house cleaner, said he had mixed feelings about the ordinance.

“Most of my clients are using me for a month or two while they are on vacation. It would be annoying for them to keep records,” Terez said. “But I think this will help some people who are making less than the minimum wage, especially undocumented workers.”

jjouvenal@examiner.com

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