Nannies, Other Domestic Workers Must Be Given Paid Sick Leave, San Francisco Board Rules

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a law Tuesday that would allow for domestic workers such as nannies, gardeners and house cleaners to get paid sick leave.

Before the measure, called "Domestic workers equal access to paid sick leave," can be implemented, the legislation must still get through a second vote by the board and be signed by Mayor London Breed. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that after that, it would take another few months for the city to find a private company to operate and roll out the program.

If implemented, it would apply to about 10,000 people, a large portion women and immigrants who work in the cleaning, child care, non-medical elderly and disabled care, cooking and gardening areas.

Under the benefits plan, people who work in multiple households will be able to aggregate their sick leave. It would create a "portable sick leave benefit" in which an employer would be required to pay for one hour for every 30 hours worked in their home.

The bill was co-sponsored by supervisors Myrna Melgar and Hillary Ronen. Ronen told CBS News that workers and their employers will likely keep track of their hours via a cellphone app.

"I think these people have been taking care of people in San Francisco for a long time, and it's about time we care for them," Melgar said.

Under a 2007 San Francisco law requiring employers to provide an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, people who worked for multiple homes slipped through the cracks, as the rule did not account for them.

Martha Garrido, a 59-year-old domestic worker providing cleaning and senior care, told the San Francisco Chronicle that she had to keep working after breaking her arm earlier this year because her family depended on her making money. She said she hopes this rule spreads across the country.

According to the Chronicle, the legislation is the first of its kind in the U.S.

San Francisco, domestic workers
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a law on December 14, 2021, that would allow domestic workers such as nannies, gardeners and house cleaners to get paid sick leave. Above, Mirna Arana mops the floor after playing with her 3-year-old son, Aaron, in her home in Oakland, California, on October 25, 2021. Brontë Wittpenn/San Francisco Chronicle via AP

Kimberly Alvarenga, executive director of the California Domestic Workers Coalition, said the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of domestic workers because "if they didn't go to work, they didn't get paid."

"If they became ill with the virus, if a family member became ill with the virus, they had no choice," Alvarenga said. "This ordinance will provide some equity so when they become ill, they can take a day to take care of themselves, children or family members."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.