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Disaster Service Worker Assignments and Employee Leave

To all Commission employees,

City leaders are especially proud and grateful for the thousands of dedicated City employees who are working on site providing essential services or performing Disaster Service Worker (DSW) assignments. Many DSWs are at new worksites, with new duties, supporting the massive City response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are all in this together, and San Francisco residents can rely on us to take care of their most urgent needs during this emergency. The City is recognizing the critically important work of our on-site essential employees and deployed DSWs with specific benefit programs.  Please see this link for information on these special leave provisions:

All City employees are Disaster Service Workers (DSWs). This is one of the many important functions all of us, as public servants, provide. Employees who are telecommuting and performing nonessential work, and employees on paid furlough may be called to take a DSW assignment. As a DSW, you cannot refuse a DSW assignment when your department contacts you. However, if you are called to a DSW assignment, you will not be required to do work you are not qualified to do. In addition, employees may volunteer for a DSW assignment. If you are interested in doing so, please complete this survey.

We also recognize that employees may not be available for work or a DSW assignment during this time due to illness or childcare responsibilities. If this is the case, you must be on sick or other approved leave. To assist City employees with these issues during this emergency, the City has provided additional leave. All employees now have an additional 80 hours of sick leave, and a new federal law provides up to 80 hours more as well as Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act leave for eligible employees. Employees who are not available to work cannot remain on paid furlough.

A significant number of employees have declined these DSW assignments due to being in a vulnerable population, illness, or childcare responsibilities. If you decline a DSW assignment for one of these reasons, you will be required to complete a self-certification providing the basis for declining. If you provide that certification, you may be eligible to telecommute or use sick leave (or other leave, if you have used up all paid sick leave). If you do not provide the certification, you must use your other accrued paid leave (vacation, compensatory time off, floating holidays).

For employees for whom we have no work until May 1, 2020, the City is providing paid furlough. However, due to the evolving nature of this emergency and the City’s need to respond, employees on paid furlough must be available to return to their workplace or accept a DSW assignment.  Employees on paid furlough who do not return to work when assigned, or who do not respond to their department, or complete the above mentioned self-certification, will be considered absent without authorization and placed on unpaid leave. We hope this will not be necessary.

We understand that during this time there are a number of questions employees may have about what it means to be deployed as a DSW, or what their work assignment may be. Please do not hesitate to talk with your departmental personnel officer if you have any concerns about your ability to perform the DSW assignment you receive. 

The City will review and may revise this approach as necessary as the emergency continues, the City’s financial circumstances change, and employees are needed to return to work for essential and DSW assignments. Thank you again to all of you who have stepped forward to serve in this time of need.