SF City Leaders Pass Back-to-Work Ordinance for Laid-Off Workers

As businesses expand, city wants to ensure those forced off the job get first dibs

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Now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing, many businesses are scrambling to hire workers, and one Bay Area city is making sure those who were forced out of work get first dibs on open positions.

San Francisco city leaders Tuesday passed a back-to-work ordinance requiring expanding businesses to give their laid-off workers the first right of refusal for their old jobs.

The ordinance applies to restaurants, hotels with at least 100 rooms, large grocery stores and other businesses with more than 100 employees.

If Mayor London Breed approves the ordinance, it will remain in effect for up to one year.

The ordinance comes on the heels of reports that businesses in some areas are finding there's a shortage of applicants. Part of the reason for the lack of available workers may be that most schools aren't fully reopened, and people still have children learning at home.

There's also a gap between child care costs and what workers earn or receive in unemployment benefits.

"For low-wage jobs, the delta between working and collecting unemployment is smaller, and I think with the other factors at play, that may be a reason why," workplace attorney Adam Rosenthal told KNSD in San Diego.

Some people may be waiting to be vaccinated before they return to work, and with vaccine eligibility opening up to all Californians 16 and older next week, there soon could be a much bigger applicant pool for many businesses.

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