San Francisco Passes Paid Military Leave Ordinance for Large, Private Employers

By Jaimie Graczyk posted 01-27-2023 09:37 AM


On January 20, 2023, San Francisco Mayor London Breed approved an ordinance requiring certain private employers to provide paid military leave to employees who are members of the military. Effective February 19, 2023, the Military Leave Pay Protection Act will require private employers with 100 or more employees, regardless of location, to provide supplemental compensation to eligible employees on military duty leave, up to 30 days in any calendar year. Supplemental compensation will equal the difference between the amount of the employee’s gross military pay and the amount of gross pay the employee would have received from the employer had the employee worked their regular work schedule.

An employee is eligible for supplemental compensation if they:

  • Work within the geographic boundaries of San Francisco, including part-time and temporary employees;

  • Are a member of the reserve corps of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard, or other uniformed service organization of the United States; and

  • Are on leave for military duty.

Military duty is defined under the ordinance as “active military service in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, international terrorism, the conflict in Iraq, or related extraordinary circumstances, or military service to provide medical or logistical support to federal, state, or local government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, or engagement in military duty ordered for the purposes of military training, drills, encampment, naval cruises, special exercises, Emergency State Active Duty, or like activity.”

An employer under the ordinance does not include the City of San Francisco or any other governmental entity. The ordinance also does not apply to employees covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement to the extent that such requirements are expressly waived in the collective bargaining agreement in clear and unambiguous terms. 

The ordinance will be enforced by the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE). An employer who violates the ordinance may be ordered by the OLSE to provide the employee the amount of supplemental compensation unlawfully withheld and “the payment of an additional sum as an administrative penalty to each Employee or other person whose rights under this [ordinance] were violated.” The administrative penalty can include “the dollar amount of Supplemental Compensation withheld from the Employee multiplied by three, or $250, whichever amount is greater” plus “$50 to each Employee or person whose rights under this [ordinance] were violated for each day or portion thereof that the violation occurred or continued.”

Additionally, to compensate the City of San Francisco for the costs of investigating and remedying the violation, the OLSE may order the violating employer to pay to the City “a sum of not more than $50 for each day or portion thereof of a violation, as to each employee or person for whom the violation occurred or continued.”

Given the potential for significant penalties for a violation of the ordinance, covered employers should ensure they understand their obligations beginning February 19, 2023. If you have questions, please contact our California Legal Services team at