How to Comply
What do I need to know to comply?
- What is the Equal Benefits Ordinance?
- What are Domestic Partners?
- How do I know if the Equal Benefits Ordinance applies to me?
- What do I do to comply with the Equal Benefits Ordinance?
- What other forms might be used to complete the Equal Benefits process?
- How does the Contract Monitoring Division determine if my policies and benefits are compliant with the requirements of the Equal Benefits Ordinance?
- Tips for completing the compliance process.
- What can I expect from an audit?
What is the Equal Benefits Ordinance?
The Equal Benefits Ordinance, also known as Chapter 12B of the San Francisco Administrative Code, prohibits the City of San Francisco from entering into contracts or property contracts with entities that discriminate against their employees in the provision of benefits between employees with domestic partners and employees with spouses or discriminate against employees or others who are members of protected classes.
What are Domestic Partners?
Domestic Partners are defined as same-sex and opposite-sex couples registered with any state or local government agency authorized to perform such registrations. Note that proof of relationship and waiting period requirements can only be applied to domestic partnerships to the same degree and in the same manner as they are applied to marriages. For example, domestic partner registry certificates must be recognized as fully equivalent to marriage certificates.
How do I know if the Equal Benefits Ordinance applies to me?
The Ordinance applies to all entities that directly enter into a contract or property contract with the City and County of San Francisco, including for public works or improvements, for a franchise, concession or lease of City property, and services or supplies to be purchased at the expense of the City or County. Joint venture partners are required to comply with the Ordinance on an individual basis, and the joint venture itself must be established under its own vendor record and start the registration process.
The Ordinance does not apply to subcontractors that indirectly receive payments from the City.
- Ensure all benefits are offered equally to employees with spouses and employees with domestic partners. Full compliance is granted based on current equal benefit policies, not your firm's promise to offer equal benefits in the future. For assistance with the documentation requirements, consult the Equal Benefits Documentation Guide (PDF, 1 pg). You may also e-mail us at CMD.EqualBenefits@sfgov.org or call us at 415-581-2310.
- Start the registration process here: https://sfcitypartner.sfgov.org/vendor/login
- Assemble the supporting documentation:
- Verification of firm size/structure. Examples the W-3 Form, DE 1 Form, DE 9 Form or an annual San Francisco Payroll Expense Tax Statement. Please redact confidential employee information.
- A copy of a memorandum that you have sent to your employees notifying them of your firm's compliant nondiscrimination and domestic partner benefit policies. The Employee Memorandum template contains all of the key information.
- Submit the CMD-12B-101 Declaration and supporting documentation to:
Contract Monitoring Division
30 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94102
What other forms might be used to complete the Equal Benefits process?
The Contract Monitoring Division also uses the forms below to administer the Equal Benefits Ordinance. The Forms & Resources page has a description of how to use the forms.
How does the Contract Monitoring Division determine if my policies and benefits are compliant with the requirements of the Equal Benefits Ordinance?
First, a Contract Compliance Officer analyzes your Declaration to ensure that it is correct, complete and compliant. Then the supporting documentation is evaluated to determine whether you have provided complete verification of firm size/structure and a memorandum to employees explaining your firm’s nondiscrimination and domestic partner policies. If your firm does not provide sufficient supporting documentation, a Contract Compliance Officer will contact you to request additional documentation and/or revisions to the documentation. As noted above, failure to provide correct supporting documentation will delay the compliance process.
1. Ensure that domestic partner benefits are in place in your firm and that all benefit documentation incorporates domestic partner language wherever spouses are referenced. Remember, full compliance is granted based on current equal benefit policies, not your firm’s promise to offer equal benefits in the future.
2. Ensure that the correct definition of Domestic Partner is explicitly incorporated into all personnel policies and insurance benefits documentation: Domestic partners are defined as same-sex and opposite-sex couples registered with any state or local government agency authorized to perform such registrations. Please also specify that any requirements for proof of relationship or waiting periods are applied equally to domestic partners and married couples. For example, domestic partner registry certificates must be recognized as fully equivalent to marriage certificates. Where COBRA coverage is available in your insurance policies, the following assurance must be given: "COBRA-like continuation coverage is available to domestic partners and their children to the same degree and in the same manner as continuation coverage is available to spouses and stepchildren."
3. Start early. Ideally, start the registration process here: https://sfcitypartner.sfgov.org/vendor/login and supply the supporting documentation (verification of firm size/structure and a memorandum to employees explaining your firm’s nondiscrimination and domestic partner policies) when you register as a vendor or respond to an RFP so that we can complete the analysis of your file before you are facing a contract execution deadline.
4. Contact us. If after reading this page and our forms you are not sure how to proceed, please call us at 415-581-2310 or email us at CMD.EqualBenefits@sfgov.org. A short conversation with one of our Contract Compliance Officers can go a long way toward ensuring that the documentation you submit accurately reflects your benefits.
What can I expect from an audit?
The Equal Benefits Unit performs regular audits to verify that the information provided in the registration process and supporting documentation is accurate and complete.
We will examine your firm’s policies, and help you amend them if necessary, to ensure that employees with domestic partners and employees with spouses receive exactly the same benefits.
Your firm’s employee handbook will be reviewed to verify that domestic partner language is incorporated wherever spouses are referenced. If, for example, the bereavement leave policy references a spouse's family members (the employee’s in-laws) or an employee’s family members by marriage (the employee’s step-family), then the equivalent members of a domestic partner's family must be explicitly included.
Insurance and retirement/savings plan benefits must be documented by formal confirmation directly from the third party provider or the official plan documents.
For a detailed description of the documentation standards, review the very helpful Equal Benefits Documentation Guide (PDF, 1 pg).