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Why San Francisco employers now should ‘flex’ schedules for caregivers

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely altered the employment panorama, together with work-from-home and telework preparations. Though some employers had relaxed office “face time” necessities earlier than the pandemic, this has grow to be and stays extra prevalent within the final two years, particularly in California the place commutes will be lengthy. Cities and localities even have thought of whether or not extra flexibility within the office needs to be expanded and enforced by authorities mandates for specific staff. Though makes an attempt have been made at totally different ranges of presidency, San Francisco was the primary metropolis within the nation to approve a “proper to request” ordinance.

In July, town expanded its Household Pleasant Office Ordinance to ensure versatile or predictable work preparations for workers with qualifying caregiver duties upon discover by the worker, except the employer can exhibit undue hardship. When San Francisco first enacted the ordinance in 2014, giving coated staff the best to request different work preparations to help with caregiving duties, it didn’t entitle staff to a particular response to their requests. Beneath the newly amended ordinance, any employer with 20 or extra staff working in or teleworking out of San Francisco should grant coated staff a versatile or predictable working association upon request—absent undue hardship—to help with caregiving duties at residence. Thus, in distinction to the earlier ordinance, the brand new modification grants staff the proper to a versatile or predictable working association with a purpose to accommodate caregiving duties. The modification additionally broadens the scope of coated staff by together with teleworkers and increasing the definition of “caregiving.”

Emily Burkhardt Vicente, Partner, Co-Chair Labor and Employment, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
Co-author Emily Burkhardt Vicente of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

In amending the ordinance, San Francisco mentioned it sought to maintain up with the altering demographics of the nation’s workforce and household buildings together with addressing the strains on household caregivers brought on by the pandemic. The modification cites the big will increase within the variety of ladies working exterior the house and single-parent households as motivators for the laws. As such, the sponsors of the ordinance famous that they search to minimize the extent that so-called “inflexible” employment schedules and the absence of telecommuting choices for workers contribute to “the stress between work and household duties that so many employees face.” The town additionally has mentioned the modification was enacted partly as a result of COVID-19 pandemic’s “nice strains on caregivers in households.” The modification’s authors additionally famous that “[f]or staff working in positions the place distant work is just not attainable, the power to request flexibility or predictability could also be particularly essential.”

As make money working from home continues to be accepted and worker expectations change post-pandemic, U.S. cities, counties and different authorities our bodies will probably be extra prone to think about laws much like the method taken by the amended San Francisco ordinance and different “proper to request” legal guidelines. In recent times, “proper to request” laws has been gaining floor overseas however had solely made modest progress in the US. The UK, Australia, Northern Eire, Finland, Norway and New Zealand have put in place office legal guidelines that embody granting dad or mum or caregiver employees the best to request versatile working preparations, much like the San Francisco ordinance.

“Proper to request” laws additionally has been launched (however not handed) in Congress by former U.S. senators Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and, as president, Obama prolonged the best to request flexibility to federal staff in 2014. Related laws was proposed as lately as Might 2021 with the Flexibility for Working Households Act, which contained provisions granting employees the best to request modifications to the variety of hours they’re required to work and the place they’re required to work. Though these federal legal guidelines haven’t been handed, employment traits usually begin in California and unfold to the remainder of the nation, and quite a few states are prone to comply with California’s lead within the coming months or years.

Michael Pearlson, Associate, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
Co-author Michael Pearlson of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

In mild of this, San Francisco’s mandate will create challenges for employers there, in addition to for employers exterior California, growing stress on them to permit versatile preparations in competitors with different corporations providing flexibility in scheduling. In a decent labor market, flexibility has grow to be a promoting level for recruiting prime expertise, and employers competing with corporations based mostly in San Francisco might really feel stress to implement their very own versatile working insurance policies to compete with these mandated by town on San Francisco employers. Many coated employers additionally will face higher challenges sustaining their operations beneath the brand new legislation as a consequence of elevated prices and staffing points that would drive up the prices of services and products, making it harder for San Francisco employers to compete within the market. With labor shortages, the demand for flexibility might make it even tougher for some employers to fill positions and hold staffing at wanted ranges to successfully function.

There is no such thing as a doubt the pandemic has ushered in lots of modifications to the office, not least of which is the will for extra flexibility for workers. As versatile office preparations acquire traction and extra states and localities look to comply with San Francisco into this frontier, employers might want to consider the feasibility of including extra flexibility for workers of their office. Staff are demanding it and, quickly, their metropolis or state might require it too.

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