Many San Francisco workers who lost their jobs in the wake of the pandemic are now breathing a collective sigh of relief as they are one-step closer to reclaiming their jobs.
On April 6, 2021, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that would create a “right to re-employment” for many of the workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
The Ordinance is Police Code Article 33K, and is titled “Right to Reemployment Following Layoff Due to COVID-19 Pandemic.”
By its own language, the Ordinance claims it will facilitate employment and “curb the long-term, adverse effects that job loss can cause on the financial, physical and mental health of employees and their families and thus our greater community.”
San Francisco and Bay Area layoffs due to Covid numbered in the hundreds of thousands. For example, there were 136,000 layoffs in the San Francisco area in the summer 2020 months. And between only February and May 2020, some 141,000 San Francisco residents filed for unemployment.
To counter these detrimental effects, the Ordinance would require certain employers to offer jobs to those who were laid off due to the pandemic if the employer is looking to fill the same or similar position. Meaning, if you worked as a project manager, but were let go, and now your former employer is looking to hire a project manager, your former employer would have to first offer you the job.
The new Ordinance would apply generally to employees who had worked at least 90 days before the layoff and employers with at least 100 employees before layoffs. The Ordinance also requires many organizations to accommodate employees unable to work because of family care.
There are several companies and employers that will fall under the Ordinance’s mandate. For example, the ordinance will apply to employers like grocery stores larger than 15,000 square feet, large hotels and food service operations as defined by the city, and restaurants with more than 200 employees.
In passing the Ordinance, the Board is looking to make more permanent some of the protections enacted through temporary emergency ordinances. Last summer, the Board passed a similar emergency ordinance which applied to larger businesses that laid off at least 10 workers because of the economic situation created by the pandemic during any 30-day period dating to late February 2020.
While most of the Board supported the Ordinance, one member was worried about the impact it could have on small businesses struggling to reopen, claiming it would be overly burdensome and create logistical challenges for employers that may not have the resources to re-hire employees. San Francisco’s Small Business Commission was also against the Ordinance, claiming it could cause problems with unemployment insurance and record-keeping.
Though the Ordinance has most of the Board’s support, it is not yet out of the woods. The Mayor of San Francisco, London Breen, has 10 days to sign the ordinance, veto it, or allow it to become law without signing it. It would take effect 30 days afterward.