Paid leave during a health crisis could soon be a basic human right in San Francisco.

The City’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to include an amendment to the San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance on the June ballot. If the measure passes, the two extra weeks of paid leave that was made available through a COVID-19 emergency ordinance would then be permanent for any public health crisis.

That public health emergency wouldn’t have to just be a pandemic; it could include any type of risk, such as unhealthy air during wildfire season.

District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar authored the original emergency measure for workers to get paid sick leave during COVID-19, as well as the new Access to Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.  

“This groundbreaking new workers’ rights policy will allow domestic workers [and others] in our city to accrue and use paid sick leave,” said Mar. “San Francisco led the way by creating the nation’s first paid sick leave law, and we’re leading once again by expanding it and ensuring that the essential workers who care for our loved ones in our homes are able to care for themselves when they’re ill.”

The measure would apply to private companies that have at least 100 workers, but small businesses would be exempt. That means it will affect about 200,000 workers in San Francisco. It kicks into effect when an employee is sick, needs to isolate, or needs to take care of a sick member of their family.

Mar says the city’s laws must reflect the “urgency and the grave reality” of our current state.

“No person should have to choose between being able to pay their rent, or going to work with a contagious and deadly disease,” Mar told KRON4. “No parent should have to choose between a paycheck or sending their sick child to school. By giving voters the chance to extend Public Health Emergency Leave for this and future emergencies, we will be showing that we’ve learned some lessons from this pandemic, and we’ll be more prepared for the next one.”

Now that the ordinance is going to head to the June ballot, all it needs is a majority vote to be written into law.

Photo by Kristine Wook on Unsplash