San Francisco becomes 1st city in nation to offer fully paid parental leave

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco will become the first city in the nation to offer a full six-week-paid parental leave. A portion of the cost is already picked up by the state, but businesses will have to make up the difference.

San Francisco is hoping other cities in the nation follow their lead. On the other hand, this is not good news for businesses who say they already pay a high minimum wage, health insurance benefits and paid sick leave. Businesses say this is one added expense they can't afford.

Kim Turner is an attorney and a mother. She wishes everyone in San Francisco could get the same paid parental leave that she received from her employer.

"It's already hard without children to live in San Francisco and so if you have that extra pay, you can have a family and go back to work," Turner said.

In 2004, california became the first to pay new moms and dads 55 percent of their wages for six weeks if they have paid into their state disability. San Francisco decided it wasn't enough. San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted to force businesses with 20 or more employees to pay the remainder, 45 percent.

"We need to stop forcing parents to make the terrible decision about whether to bond with the child, or whether to put food on the table," said San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner.

Patricia Unterman is the owner of Hayes Street Grill. "I think it's a long time coming that we get mandated paid maternity leave, but on the other hand is this really one more responsibility of the small business person?" Unterman said.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association says it's one more cost small businesses will be saddled with.

"In a restaurant environment, you will have to pay 45 percent of someone's salary while they are gone and also actually have to pay someone else and train them to work for that person's job," said Gwyneth Borden of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Restaurants may have to pass on this new cost to customers. The law would go into effect next year.
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