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USA's First Flexible Work Initiative Proposed for Families

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We've been crooning Tony Bennett's hit song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" all day, and here's why: San Francisco is now leading the country in terms of advancements in telecommuting.

David Chiu, the President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, has introduced a new proposal that will allow for better flexibility and work life balance for families. Co-sponsored by Supervisors Eric Mar and Malia Cohen, The Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance would ensure job security and allow employees the "right to request" flexible work schedules so they can care for their children.

While the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia have all created similar policies that allow working parents to work at home, this would be the first of its kind in the United States.

Interestingly enough, San Francisco has one of the lowest percentages of children in any major city. The intention with this legislation is to make The City by the Bay more family-friendly. Currently, only 16.7 percent of households have children under the age of 18, compared to the national average of 36 percent.

Under The Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, employees have the "right to request" predictable and flexible work hours from their employers, in the form of part-time work, alternative workdays, adjusted start- or end-times, and even telecommuting.

We love this proposed legislation for so many reasons. First, it will apply to all workers, regardless of income. From low-wage workers to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, everyone can equally have the opportunity to enjoy a flex schedule that helps them accommodate their childcare needs. Second, under the proposal, employers are not allowed to discriminate, discipline or even fire an employee who might need to telecommute in order to take care of his or her family. Overall, it recognizes the urgency that so many families are currently facing in the United States -- the option to telecommute in order to continue working in the jobs they love and take care of the families they love as well.

But here's the other thing -- this will benefit employers as well. As Carol Evans, CEO of Working Mother Media has said, "Telecommuting and flex are GOOD for finance, management, HR, and employees." Employers will benefit from less turnover and family-related absences from employees, for example, which positively impact the bottom line. And the policies will reduce the stress associated with family-work juggles, increasing engagement, loyalty, and productivity from employees.

The ordinance will come up for a vote this November. The hope is that this will spark other states to create -- and pass -- similar legislation. That way, all American families would have the option to telecommute and, finally, achieve their own work life balance.