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"S.F. businesses scramble over sick leave law"

Little noticed in the 2006 election upheavals, San Francisco voters (in a further effort to make their city entirely unliveable) passed Proposition F, which requires paid sick leave to all employees starting February 5, and creates a new cause of action to enforce it. Unlike many complex employment laws, there are no exceptions, which means that not just tiny businesses with a handful of employees are affected, but so is the yuppie couple who hires a babysitter. Like many "labor friendly" laws, this one will hurt laborers by hurting small businesses:

"Between this sick leave law and raising the minimum wage [to $9.14/hour in SF], pretty soon the only ones who can afford to do business in the city will be chains," said Richard Crain, owner of the Village Grill, a restaurant with nine employees down the street from the St. Francis Market. "How can we afford this? You can only charge so much for a hamburger, and then people will stop coming. I'm 52 and was hoping to do this until I retire, but the city is going to force me out of business."

Further problems are created because the law requires sick-leave to be doled out at one hour of leave for thirty hours of work, but has no regulations for describing the plight of employers seeking to comply with the law but who employ exempt white-collar workers who aren't paid by the hour or temporary workers who earn different salaries for different temporary jobs. With penalties at $250/hour of withheld sick-leave (plus the standard one-way attorney-fee-shifting in these laws), there will be certainly be lawyers who seek the most aggressive interpretation of the rule, which is good news for property-owners in the suburbs of San Francisco. (Ilana deBare, "S.F. businesses scramble over sick leave law", San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 12; Cal Biz Lit blog).



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.