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San Francisco Approves Fully Paid Family Leave

  • VOA News

Mark Farrell, left, and Malia Cohen, right, listen as Scott Wiener, foreground, speaks during a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting at City Hall in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. 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.

Mark Farrell, left, and Malia Cohen, right, listen as Scott Wiener, foreground, speaks during a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting at City Hall in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. 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.

San Francisco has approved fully paid parental leave for its residents, making it the first city in the United States to do so.

A bill passed Tuesday by the city's Board of Supervisors mandates San Francisco employers provide fully paid six-week leave to new mothers and fathers.

Previously under California law, employers were only required to pay 55 percent of an employee's salary while on leave, which many advocates argued is not enough to cover the cost of living for families in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the country.

Though the cost of living continues to rise rapidly, San Francisco has been a pioneer in employee benefits. In 2006, it became the first U.S. city to require paid sick leave, and in 2014 approved a $15 minimum wage, an initiative since instated throughout the state of California.

Parental leave has become a point of focus for many presidential candidates, internationally the United States is the only major industrialized nation that does not require paid leave.

The benefits challenge smaller businesses who cannot compete with the size, and resources of Silicon Valley tech companies. But the new regulation will be phased in, giving companies with 20-34 workers until January 2018 to comply, and businesses with 35 to 49 workers until July 2017, while larger companies must offer the benefit by January 2017.

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