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San Francisco moves to require paid sick leave for nannies and gardeners

Mirna Arana mops the floor after playing with her son in her home in Oakland, Calif., Oct. 25, 2021. Arana works as a housecleaner in San Francisco and is hopeful about a proposed law that would give domestic workers paid sick leave.
Brontë Wittpenn
/
San Francisco Chronicle via AP
Mirna Arana mops the floor after playing with her son in her home in Oakland, Calif., Oct. 25, 2021. Arana works as a housecleaner in San Francisco and is hopeful about a proposed law that would give domestic workers paid sick leave.

SAN FRANCISCO — Nannies, house cleaners, gardeners and other San Francisco domestic workers must be given paid sick leave under a groundbreaking law approved by city leaders this week.

The city's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously passed the legislation, which the San Francisco Chronicle said is the first of its kind in the U.S.

The measure would affect 10,000 people in the city who work in private homes cleaning, cooking, tending children, garden or providing non-medical care for seniors or disabled residents.

Supporters of the law said that workforce is typically low-paid with many women and immigrants.

"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," said Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who co-sponsored the measure with Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

The measure addresses the fact that many domestic workers may work for multiple households, the Chronicle said.

It creates a a portable paid sick leave benefit, so workers would earn slivers of paid sick leave from each employer and then consolidate them. An employer would pay one hour of wages into the sick leave fund for every 30 hours of service from a domestic worker.

The proposal has more steps before it's final

To take effect, the measure needs a second vote by the supervisors and must be signed by Mayor London Breed. It would then take several months for the city to hire a private company to administer the benefits program, according to the Chronicle.

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 members 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."

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