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San Francisco becomes first in U.S. to mandate fully paid family leave

Kim Turner holds her daughter Adelaide Turner Winn before a rally supporting paid family leave at City Hall in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 5, 2016.
Kim Turner holds her daughter Adelaide Turner Winn before a rally supporting paid family leave at City Hall in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. AP

San Francisco has approved a measure making it the first place in the nation to require businesses to provide fully paid leave for new parents.

Advocates say the issue is gaining momentum across the country much like the debate over a higher minimum wage.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday after supporters said six weeks of fully paid leave is needed because too many families can’t afford to take time off after a child is born or adopted.

Small business owners countered that it’s the latest in a long list of city mandates – including paid sick leave and health coverage – that unfairly targets them.

California, Rhode Island and New Jersey provide for partial pay, with the money coming from employees. Legislators in New York last month approved up to 12 weeks of partial pay.

Here are some things to know about the measure:

WHAT DOES THE MEASURE DO?

The state of California currently allows workers to receive 55 percent of their pay for up to six weeks to bond with a new child. The money comes from a state insurance program funded by workers. The proposal in San Francisco would require private employers to make up the remainder of a parent’s full pay for six weeks.

WHO IS AFFECTED?

San Francisco employers with at least 20 workers would have to provide the benefit to new parents who spend at least 40 percent of their work week within San Francisco boundaries. The legislation does not apply to the federal, state or other municipal governments.

WHAT IS THE POLICY FOR SAN FRANCISCO GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES?

People who work for the city and county of San Francisco receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave. In comparison, the city of Portland and Multnomah County in Oregon offer six weeks to its employees. New York City offers six weeks of fully paid leave to its nonunion employees.

HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO OTHER PARENTAL LEAVE POLICIES?

California, New Jersey and Rhode Island offer partial pay for new parents through state disability insurance programs. New York approved legislation last month that calls for partial pay for up to 12 weeks.

HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO PRIVATE EMPLOYERS?

Some big-name technology companies in hypercompetitive Silicon Valley offer generous paid leave benefits to attract and retain workers. Netflix, for example, offers up to one year of paid leave for salaried workers and 12 to 16 weeks for hourly workers.

Janie Har contributed to this report.

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