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New San Francisco Commuter Ordinance Takes Effect January 19, 2009

1/15/2009 Articles

Starting on January 19, 2009, employees who work at least 10 hours a week in San Francisco and use public transport for their commute are entitled to benefits under a new commuter benefits program. The program applies to all employers with at least 20 full-time, part-time or temporary employees. Under the program, employers may choose from three payment options. 

The easiest option is to provide employees with reimbursement of up to $45 per month for commuter expenses incurred using mass transit or vanpools.  Secondly, employers may offer a pre-tax program which permits employees to use up to $120 a month in pretax wages to purchase mass transit or vanpool rides. This option offers a savings of 9% on the commuter benefit amount for employers, which are exempted from paying payroll taxes on that amount. Thirdly, employers may fulfill their obligation under the ordinance by offering free shuttle service on a company-funded bus or van between home and place of business.

Penalties for non-compliance are $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation within the same year, and $500 for each additional violation within the same year.

If you would like more information regarding the commuter ordinance, or a complimentary reimbursement form for use by employees, contact Farella Braun + Martel Employment Law partners Holly Sutton or Doug Dexter.

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