Proposition G - Military Leave Compensation

Voter Guide
This measure appeared on the March 2004 San Francisco ballot.


What it does

This Charter amendment extends the time period for which employees called to active military duty may receive supplemental pay from the City. Currently, the Charter allows the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance to pay City employees called to active duty with a United States military reserve organization the difference between the amount of the employee's military pay and the amount the employee would have received as his or her normal pay with the City. However, if such an ordinance is passed, each employee is only entitled to receive such compensation for 180 days. This Charter amendment allows an ordinance to be passed providing for such compensation without the 180-day cap, and would allow the ordinance to apply retroactively.


The Board of Supervisors placed this measure on the ballot to allow a mechanism to ensure that City employees called to active duty will continue to receive, through military pay and the City's supplemental payments, the same total compensation they receive when they work their normal work schedule.


Those who support this measure state:

  • Employees called to active service face a number of challenges and stresses. They are leaving their families, their jobs, their community, and in many cases are facing life-threatening experiences abroad. Allowing the employees to receive compensation equal to the compensation they would receive if they were still at home would provide some level of comfort to the military personnel and their families.
  • According to the Legislative Digest for this measure, other jurisdictions already provide similar compensation benefits to their employees. San Francisco employees called to active service should enjoy these benefits as well.


Those who oppose this measure state:

  • Allowing the supplemental compensation ordinance to apply retroactively could result in large, lump-sum back-wage payments to employees who have been on active duty for long periods of time. It is unknown exactly how many employees are on active duty who would be affected by this ordinance.

SPUR's analysis

Without this amendment, Charter section A8.400 (h) permits the Mayor to introduce an ordinance for Board of Supervisors approval that entitles City employees called to active duty with a United States military reserve organization to receive from the City the difference between the employee's military pay and the amount the employee would have received from the City if the employee had worked his or her normal work schedule, including any merit raises that would have been granted during the time the individual was on active duty. The ordinance must specify the time period for this compensation, and the time period must not exceed 180 days. The ordinance cannot be retroactive. Currently, the ordinance providing for 180 days of compensation is contained in the Annual Salary Ordinance, which has been renewed every year since its first passage for fiscal year 2001-2002.

This amendment would change the Charter provision in two respects. First, it would allow the ordinance to provide for compensation for a period longer than 180 days. The ordinance would specify the period of compensation. Second, the ordinance would allow the compensation to apply retroactively.

Restrictions on the application of the ordinance would still apply. The ordinance only applies to employees who have been called into active service for a period greater than 30 consecutive days. In addition, the purpose for the call to active service must be "extraordinary circumstances" and does not include scheduled training, drills, unit training assemblies, or similar events. The amounts paid to the employee will still be offset by amounts paid pursuant to any other law so that employees cannot receive double payments. Finally, if the employee is fit to return to work at the City and does not return to work after release from active duty, then the employee must pay the compensation back to the City with interest.

The City should take whatever steps it can take to make sure that employees called to active duty are not suffering economically as a result of their service.

SPUR recommends a "Yes" vote on Proposition G.