San Francisco Releases “Back to Work” Layoff Notice and Related Guidance

On August 7, 2020, the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) formally issued its guidance on the Temporary Right to Reemployment Following Layoff Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Ordinance (also known as the “Back to Work” Ordinance), which went into effect on July 3, 2020.  The Back to Work Ordinance is scheduled to be in effect for 60 days (through September 2, 2020), unless the Board of Supervisors extends it.  

The Back to Work Ordinance requires certain employers in San Francisco to notify and offer reemployment to eligible employees laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related city-issued shelter-in-place orders when employers rehire for the same or similar classifications.  The ordinance applies to covered employers with 100 or more employees (regardless of where they work) that lay off 10 or more “eligible” employees in San Francisco in a 30-day period, since February 25, 2020, due to a covered reason. 

The OEWD’s guidance provides an overview of the ordinance, employer coverage and employee eligibility, and summarizes the reporting requirements to the OEWD.  The guidance answers some of the questions that many employers have had about the Back to Work Ordinance and provides new directions to employers on how to comply with its requirements.  Importantly, the guidance directs employers that had layoffs covered by the Back to Work Ordinance prior to August 7, 2020, to report the required layoff notice to the OEWD within 30 days of when the guidance became effective (August 7, 2020).  For all covered layoffs after August 7, 2020, the notice to the OEWD must be made within 30 days from the date of the layoff.  The OEWD’s guidance also confirmed that the general OEWD hotline telephone number—(415) 701-4817—should be used in the employee notices required by the Back to Work Ordinance.

The OEWD also issued templates for the Notice of Layoff and Notice of Reemployment Offers required by the Back to Work Ordinance, which should be submitted to the following email address:  The OEWD did not provide templates for the employer’s notice to affected employees, however.  The employer may determine the format of the employee notice as long as all of the information required by the Back to Work Ordinance is included.  Employers with questions about the Back to Work Ordinance are directed to submit them to the email address listed above.

Finally, the OEWD’s guidance provides a link to the Back to Work Ordinance’s FAQs, which address and clarify questions such as the operative date of the ordinance, covered employers and employees, employer obligations regarding notice of layoffs and offers of reemployment to employees, and making the required notifications to the city.  The FAQs also note that the Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement may issue regulations regarding any violations, but clarify that non-compliance at present is limited to an action brought by the former employee against the employer relating to hiring and reinstatement rights and seeking back pay or some other value of benefits that the worker may have received.  The FAQs are scheduled to be updated on a weekly basis; employers are instructed to check back for updates.   

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.