The City and County of San Francisco supports its employees by offering many types of paid and unpaid leave. While regular and reliable attendance is an essential function of every job, employees need to reenergize and may deal with illness and other life events that require time away from work. Some City leaves are required by law, while others are at the discretion of the appointing officer. The City also offers special wage replacement benefits to assist employees on certain types of leave. Each leave type and benefit has unique eligibility requirements.

Depending on the type of leave or benefit requested, employees may be required to complete appropriate forms and comply with specific requirements. Generally requests for leave of more than five working days must be made in writing on the appropriate form. Employees should consult with their departmental personnel officer for additional information on available leaves, wage replacement benefits and requirements.

Below are categories representing life circumstances that may require a leave of absence. Each category includes links to relevant information and forms. Click on the life circumstance to learn more about applicable leave types and wage replacement benefits.

View the required legal notifications, Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act of 2014 - Paid Sick Leave and Notice B - Family Care and Medical Leave and Pregnancy Disability Leave

Click here to review the City's Employee Handbook.


The following leave types may apply when an employee is sick or disabled:

Click on the leave type for more information.

Sick Leave

The City provides paid sick leave as required by law and as a privilege of employment. Most full time employees who work a regular schedule accrue sick leave at the rate of 13 days per year. Some employees accrue sick leave at a different rate. State and local laws, and Civil Service Rules authorize employees to accrue and use paid sick leave.

Proper use of sick leave includes:

  • Inability to work due to the employee's own illness or disability
  • Medical and dental appointments
  • Pregnancy or convalescence period following childbirth
  • Bereavement

Improper use of sick leave includes:

  • Calling in sick to extend an approved vacation
  • Using sick leave when arrival at work is delayed by traffic or car trouble
  • Taking a "mental health" day not approved by a health care professional
  • Falsely claiming illness
  • Using sick leave to cover a period of incarceration

For information on the various authorities granting sick leave refer to the links below.

Civil Service Rule 20 Leaves of Absence

FMLA or CFRA for My Serious Health Condition


The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the state California Family Rights Act (CFRA) both require covered employers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid time off for the following reasons:

  • The employee's own serious health condition
  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Bonding with a newborn, adopted child, or child placed for foster care
  • Caring for a qualifying current or former military service member's illness or injury (FMLA only - up to 26 weeks)
  • A qualifying exigency relating to a close family member's military service (FMLA only)

Leave can be taken continuously or intermittently for incapacity and treatment.

Employees seeking to take this type of protected leave should use the Request for Leave and Leave Protections form.


In order to be eligible to take leave under the FMLA and CFRA, an employee must:

  • have actually worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave;
  • have been employed by the City for 12 months. The 12 months of employment are not required to be consecutive in order for the employee to qualify for FMLA leave. In general, only employment within seven years is counted unless the break in service is (1) due to an employee's fulfillment of military obligations, or (2) governed by a collective bargaining agreement or other written agreement.

Employees seeking FMLA/CFRA will receive a notice explaining their eligibility for this protected leave. The notice also explains the entitlement and employee responsibilities while taking FMLA/CFRA leave.

Medical Certification

Employees seeking FMLA/CFRA protected leave may be required to submit medical certification supporting the need for leave. Employees will receive written notice of the requirement for medical certification on form FML 1. Medical certification should be provided within 15 days of the request or as soon as reasonably practicable. Failure to provide requested medical certification may result in denial of FMLA/CFRA leave protections. To assist employees with obtaining required medical information the City uses a Health Care Provider Certification Form (FML 2).

Leave Designation, Delay or Denial

Employees meeting requirements for protected leave will receive a Notice of Determination designating their leave, and advising them of how much leave has been approved. The Notice of Determination may also tell an employee that additional information is required to approve their leave or that leave protections have been denied.

Return to Work

An employee has the right to return to the position held before taking a family medical leave, but this right is not absolute. Employees taking leave for more than five workdays may be required to obtain medical clearance in order to return to duty following an approved FMLA or CFRA protected absence.

Return to My Illness or Disability

Workers' Compensation

Employees with work-related illness or injury may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits and are entitled to work-related injury leave. This leave is not charged to vacation or sick leave. For employees disabled with a work-related injury or illness, a position will be held open as long as the department can function with the vacancy. At some point, if the employee is unable to return to work in his/her usual job, the employee may explore reasonable accommodations that will assist with return to work, such as job modifications, assistive devices or reassignment to alternate vacancies that match permanent medical restriction. If an employee cannot return to work in any capacity, the employee can consider options for separating from City employment.

Absence from work of three consecutive days or more due to a work-related injury or illness may reduce the 12 weeks of eligibility for FMLA or CFRA protected leave.

Employees receiving workers' compensation for job-related injuries or illness may use sick leave, vacation or other accrued leave to supplement the payment up to, but not to exceed, their regular rate of pay.

Employees receiving workers' compensation will continue to accrue vacation and sick leave at the regular rate.

After all sick and vacation leave has been exhausted, employees are not entitled to leave or pay benefits other than workers' compensation. Employees may be put into a leave without pay status during this time without accruing service credit toward retirement or pension contributions.

DHR Workers' Compensation

Reasonable Accommodation

Under state and federal law employees may take leave as a form of reasonable accommodation when needed due to an employee's qualifying disability. Reasonable accommodation can also be made to assist employees in returning to work after a leave of absence.

An employee with a disability may need leave for a number of reasons related to the disability, including, but not limited to:

  • obtaining medical treatment (e.g., surgery, psychotherapy, substance abuse treatment, or dialysis); rehabilitation services; or physical or occupational therapy;
  • recuperating from an illness or an episodic manifestation of the disability;
  • participating in training with, or caring for, a service animal;
  • avoiding temporary adverse conditions created by the work environment that have an impact on the employee's impairment (e.g., construction, cleaning activities, inoperative heating/cooling system or elevator);
  • obtaining repairs on equipment used by the employee with a disability to perform major life activities, like a wheelchair, prosthetic device, or accessible vehicle.

Leave as an accommodation for a disability may be taken continuously or intermittently, and may be approved after an employee has exhausted protected leaves under FMLA, CFRA or other mandatory medical leave laws. The law does not require a specific duration of time for leave to accommodate an employee's disability. Each department has discretion to determine how much leave is reasonable based on whether the amount of leave imposes an undue hardship on operations.

Return to My Illness or Disability

Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Leave

Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are entitled to job protected time away from work to seek services that protect themselves and their children and to attend court proceedings. Services may include:

  • medical attention for injuries
  • referrals to a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center
  • psychological counseling
  • safety planning and other actions to increase safety from future domestic violence or sexual assault, including temporary or permanent relocation
  • temporary restraining orders, permanent restraining orders or other injunctive relief.

This leave is unpaid unless the employee elects to use vacation time, compensatory time, paid sick leave or other available accrued paid leave. Employees must give supervisors reasonable advance notice of the need for leave, whenever possible, and provide proof that they have been a victim. This information will be kept confidential as required by law.

Return to My Illness or Disability

Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Leave

Drug addiction and alcoholism are sometimes considered disabilities. Employees with disabilities may seek unpaid, job protected leave to participate in alcohol or drug rehabilitation programs. This leave is a reasonable accommodation that is based on the length of the program and is granted as long as the leave does not impose an undue hardship on operations. Employees may use sick leave or other accrued paid time to receive pay during this type of leave.

This type of leave may also be covered by the FMLA or CFRA if the employee is otherwise eligible and has a serious health condition. If so, employees should follow the request and medical certification process for FMLA/CFRA protected leave. The two leave obligations may run concurrently.

Managers and supervisor must make reasonable efforts to keep information about an employee’s treatment private.

Return to My Illness or Disability

Organ and Bone Marrow Donor Leave

The City and County of San Francisco provides job protected leave for employees to donate organs and bone marrow, similar to that provided in the California Labor Code. If an employee donates an organ to another person, he or she may take a paid leave of absence for up to 30 days in any one-year period. If an employee donates bone marrow, he or she may take a paid leave of absence of up to five days in any one-year period. Employees donating organs may be required to use up to 14 days of accrued time off, and employees donating bone marrow may be required to use accrued time off to cover the entire leave. If an employee does not have sufficient accrued time off, then the City will pay the employee's salary.

Employees seeking organ or bone marrow donor leave must complete a leave request form and provide verification that he or she is an organ or bone marrow donor and there is a medical necessity for the donation. The Labor Code section that provides Organ and Bone Marrow Donor Leave applies to private employers; however, the City voluntarily provides this benefit.

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State Disability Insurance (SDI)

The California State Disability Insurance (SDI) Program provides short-term, disability wage replacement benefits to eligible employees suffering from non-work-related illness or injury. SDI is funded through employee payroll deductions. Employees may be eligible to receive SDI benefits if they suffer a wage loss and are unable to do their regular or customary work for at least eight consecutive days. Please refer to the SDI Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

Return to My Illness or Disability

Long Term Disability (LTD) Insurance

Some active City employees and Superior Court employees are eligible for long term disability insurance benefits. This benefit can pay 60% to 66.6667% of an employee's base earnings subject to plan caps. The benefit may be payable for a set number of year or until a certain age, like 65 years old. The City's Health Service System contracts with Aetna to administer long term disability benefits.

Depending on the employee's representative labor organization the waiting period for long term disability benefits is 90 or 180 days. Employees may check the Health Services System (HSS) website to see if their representative labor organization has negotiated this benefit. Health Service System website.

Funeral planning benefits are also available through Aetna.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are federal government sponsored cash benefit programs that provide long term wage replacement income to disabled employees. Additional information about these benefits is available online at

Return to My Illness or Disability

Catastrophic Illness Program (CIP)

The T.J. Anthony Catastrophic Illness Program provides paid leave credits to employees who are catastrophically ill. To qualify employees must be eligible to accumulate and use sick leave and vacation, exhaust all their available paid leave, and be excluded from participation in short or long-term disability programs the City pays for, either directly or indirectly. If an employee does participate in such a disability program, the employee must apply for disability benefits immediately upon becoming eligible.

This program is open to donors as well as recipients. Employees may donate accrued sick leave or vacation to designated persons or to the CIP pool.

Return to My Illness or Disability


The following leave types and benefits may be available when an employee's family member is sick or disabled (click on the leave type for more information):

Family Care Leave

If an employee’s leave to bond with a newborn, newly adopted or foster child, or to care for a sick family member extends beyond the 12-week FMLA leave maximum, or if he or she is not eligible for FMLA leave, the employee may request additional unpaid leave of up to a total of one year for the same reasons. This type of leave is provided in Civil Service Rules and is available to permanent employees who have completed at least one year of service and is at the discretion of the department's appointing officer.

The definition of family member under this Civil Service Rule is broad and includes many types of non-biological relationships.

Return to My Family Member's Illness

Paid Family Leave

The California Employment Development Department administers a family leave insurance program that provides income replacement to workers on leave for family caregiving or bonding with a new child. This program is Paid Family Leave (PFL) and it provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement during child bonding and when taking time off work to care for a sick child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner. Please refer to the Paid Family Leave Fact Sheet for more information.

Return to My Family Member's Illness


The following leave types and benefits may be available when an employee is pregnant or starting a family (click on the leave type for more information):

For more information about pregnancy-related leave and leave for childbirth, adoption or foster placement please refer to Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy and Family Bonding Leave.


Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)

California law provides up to 17-1/3 weeks of job protected leave for expectant mothers who are disabled as a result of their pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. Women are eligible for this leave regardless of length of service or hours worked. The amount of leave required is generally determined by the employee's health care provider. As an example, PDL can be taken for:

  • prenatal care
  • severe morning sickness
  • doctor-ordered bed rest
  • childbirth
  • recovery from childbirth
  • assisted reproductive treatment

Pregnant employees are also entitled to pregnancy-related accommodations such as temporary transfers or duty restrictions. The requested accommodation must be reasonable and not pose an undue hardship on the department's operations.

Employees may be required to provide medical certification supporting the need for leave or accommodations. Pregnancy Disability Leave runs concurrently with leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, but not with leave under the California Family Rights Act.

For more information, please refer to this list of Frequently Asked Questions from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

Paid Parental Leave (PPL)

The San Francisco Charter provides compensation to ensure that City employees receive the equivalent of the employee's salary for up to 12 weeks while on a qualifying "family medical leave" for the birth, adoption or placement of a child. The Charter provides an additional four weeks of benefits for employees who take leave for temporary pregnancy disability.

This compensation is available to employees who have completed at least six (6) months of continuous service, working at least 20 hours per week, and employees who have worked 1,040 hours within the 12 months preceding the leave and whose average work week is not less than 20 hours. Employees must exhaust all accrued paid leave, except 40 hours of sick leave, before receiving the PPL benefit. Employees may use PPL to supplement State Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave benefits.

Return to My Pregnancy or Bonding with My Child


The following is a list of leave types that may be applicable when an employee needs leave for military service, to care for an ill or injured service member, or to attend to exigent needs related to the deployment of a service member (click on the leave type for more information):


Leave For Military Service

Employees called to take part in a variety of military duties are eligible for leave and benefits under state and federal laws. These laws cover military duties required by members of the uniformed services, including Reservists and National Guard members, for training, periods of active military service, and funeral honors duty, as well as time spent being examined to determine fitness to perform such service. Subject to certain exceptions under the applicable laws, these benefits are generally limited to five years of leave. See the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and the U.S. Department of Labor's fact sheet about the USERRA.


As a general rule, the employee is entitled to reemployment in the position that he or she would have attained with reasonable certainty if not for the absence due to military service. This is known as the escalator position. The principle behind the escalator position is that, if not for the period of military service, the employee could have been promoted (or, alternatively, demoted, transferred, or laid off) due to intervening events. The escalator principle requires that the employee be reemployed in a position that reflects with reasonable certainty the pay, benefits, seniority, and other job perks that he or she would have attained if not for the period of service.

Timeline for Reemployment

The employer must promptly reemploy the employee when he or she returns from a period of service if the employee meets USERRA's eligibility criteria. Absent unusual circumstances, reemployment must occur within two weeks of the employee's application for reemployment.

Health Benefit Reinstatement

The returning veteran is entitled to immediate reinstatement of his or her employer sponsored health plan coverage, including coverage for family members. There must be no waiting period and no exclusion of "pre-existing conditions" (except conditions that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has determined to be service-connected).

Health Benefits During Leave

For military service of less than 31 days, health care coverage is provided as if the service member had remained employed. The employee must continue to pay their customary portion of the cost.

For military service of 31 days or longer, the employee is entitled to continuing coverage for himself or herself (and dependents if the plan offers dependent coverage) under a health plan provided in connection with the employment. The employee may be required to pay up to 102% of the full premium.

  • The plan must allow the employee to elect to continue coverage for a period of time that is the lesser of:
    1. The 24-month period beginning on the date on which the employee's absence for the purpose of performing service begins; or,
    2. The period beginning on the date on which the employee's absence for the purpose of performing service begins, and ending on the date on which he or she fails to return from service or apply for reemployment.


On reemployment, the employee is treated as not having a break in service with the employer or employer's pension plan, for purposes of participation, vesting and accrual of benefits, for any period of absence due to military service. Under the San Francisco Charter, the City will continue to pay the full employee contribution to the employee's pension as if he/she were continuously employed, to the extent employer paid employee contributions are required under the memorandum of understanding covering the employee.


The employee is entitled to the seniority and seniority-based rights and benefits that he or she had on the date military service began, plus any seniority and seniority-based rights and benefits the employee would have attained if he or she had remained continuously employed during the term of military service.

Paid Leave

Under the California's Military and Veterans Code employees with at least one year of service with a public employer who are on leave for less than 180 calendar days are entitled to their regular salary for the first 30 calendar days of leave for military service.

The San Francisco Charter provides ongoing supplemental pay for employees called to active duty for more than 30 calendar days. The supplemental pay ensures that employees will receive the difference between the employee's gross military pay and the gross pay the employee would have received had he or she worked his or her normal work schedule. Employees must request supplemental pay and will be required to submit military check stubs or proof of military wages. Employees are also required to sign an agreement to treat the supplemental pay as a loan should the employee fail to return to City employment within 60 days of release from active duty, or if the employee is not fit for employment at that time, within 60 days of return to fitness for employment.

Employees Who Are Injured During Military Service

Service members convalescing from injuries received during active duty or training may have up to two years from the date of completion of service to return to their jobs or apply for reemployment.

USERRA has special rules for employees disabled while in the military. An employer must make reasonable accommodations to return an employee disabled by his or her military service in the position he or she would have held, absent military service and to help the employee to become qualified to perform the duties of his or her reemployment position. If the employer is unable to fulfill this obligation, even with a reasonable accommodation, then the employer must place the employee in a position of equivalent seniority, status and pay. If this is impossible, the employer may place the employee in a position of lesser status and pay, but with equal seniority.

Return to Leave For Military Service

Leave for Military Exigency

Military Exigency is covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but not under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). This leave counts towards an employee's 12 week entitlement for FMLA leave. The leave may be used to address exigent circumstances associated with:

  • Short notice deployment (up to 7 days)
  • Military events (ceremonies, family support or assistance programs, informational briefings)
  • Childcare and school activities (caused by exigency) of minor or dependent disabled adult child of covered servicemember (arranging for alternative childcare, providing urgent childcare, enrolling in or switching schools, meeting with teachers)
  • Financial and legal arrangements (transferring bank accounts, preparing wills)
  • Counseling (to attend counseling for self or other, related to exigency)
  • Rest and Recuperation (up to 15 days)
  • Post-deployment activities (ceremonies or briefings occurring within 90 days of return from deployment, funeral arrangements)
  • Parental care activities (caused by exigency) for the servicemember's parent who is incapable of self-care (arranging for alternative care, providing urgent care, admitting or transferring parent to a care facility, or attending meetings with facility staff)
  • The relationships covered under FMLA Military Exigency Leave are a spouse, parent, or child of any age (includes biological, adopted, foster, step, in loco parentis) who is a member of the Armed Forces (including the National Guard and Reserves) and who is on covered active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty.


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Leave When Spouse or Partner is Home from Deployment

California's Military and Veterans Code guarantees that qualified employees are entitled to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected leave while the employee's spouse is on leave from active military duty. Employees may use accrued vacation, floating holidays or compensation time to receive pay during this leave.

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Leave to Care for Ill or Injured Servicemembers

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 26 weeks of job-protected leave within a single 12-month period (this includes any time taken for another FMLA-qualifying purpose) to care for a seriously ill or injured servicemember or veteran. This provision of the FMLA covers illnesses or injuries incurred in the line of active duty or which existed before duty and were aggravated by service and may render the servicemember medically unfit to perform duties. For veterans, the condition can also be a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs the ability to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of a disability related to military service, or would do so absent treatment.

This FMLA provision applies to any servicemember receiving medical treatment or any veteran who was discharged within the last 5 years. It does not cover servicemembers who were dishonorably discharged.

Covered FMLA relationships for servicemembers are expanded to include "next of kin" and can include children of any age or any blood relative.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) does not have a separate provision for Military Caregiver leave. Employees who wish to take leave to care for a servicemember under CFRA still must certify a qualifying CFRA relationship (spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, minor child or adult dependent child) and a serious health condition that qualifies under the CFRA regulations. CFRA leave will run concurrently with FMLA Military Caregiver leave for up to 12 weeks if the servicemember is a parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, or child, and if the illness qualifies as a serious health condition.


Return to Leave For Military Service


The following is a list of other leave types which may be applicable when employees need time away from work for other reasons (click on the leave type for more information):

Leaves under the City's Civil Service Rules

  • Leave to Accept Other City and County Position
  • Educational Leave
  • Leave for Civilian Service in the National Interest
  • Leave for Employment as an Employee Organization Officer or Representative
  • Witness or Jury Duty Leave
  • Religious Leave
  • Personal Leave

Civil Service Rules

Return to Other Circumstances

Leave to Participate in School Activities

California's Labor Code provides job-protected leave to parents, guardians, or grandparents having custody of children in grades K -12, or attending a licensed day care facility, to take off up to 40 hours each year, not exceeding eight hours in any calendar month, to participate in school-related activities and emergencies. Some of the City's MOUs also grant leave rights for this purpose. This leave is unpaid, unless pay is required under the collective bargaining agreement covering the employee. Employees may use accrued vacation, floating holidays or compensation time off to receive pay, if pay is not otherwise provided.

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Jury Duty Leave

California's Labor Code provides job-protected leave to serve on a jury or appear as a witness in court. The City's Civil Service Rules also provide leave with pay for employees who are summoned as a juror.

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City-provided paid leave for regularly-scheduled employees who have completed one year or more of continuous service. Additionally, certain temporary exempt employees may be eligible for vacation benefits. Employees are not eligible to use vacation leave during the first year of continuous service. Vacation benefits are provided according to the following schedule:

  • 1 through 5 years: 80 hours (10 days)
  • More than 5 years: 120 hours (15 days)
  • More than 15 years: 160 hours (20 days)

See the City's Memoranda of Understanding for more information.

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Required Notices