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Purchasing & Contracting

Equal Benefits

The Equal Benefits Program ensures compliance with the Equal Benefits Ordinance (EBO) by assisting contractors in understanding obligations, monitoring contracts, maintaining records, conducting reviews, investigating complaints and providing reports as needed.

The EBO, San Diego Municipal Code Division 43, applies on all City contracts unless specifically listed as an exception. The Ordinance requires the City to contract only with entities that provide equal benefits. Contractors must offer the same benefits to employees with spouses and employees with domestic partners. If a contractor does not offer any of these benefits to an employee with a spouse, those same benefits are not required to be extended to an employee with a domestic partner. The EBO does not apply to subcontractors. Complaints of violations may be made through the submittal of an EBO Employee Complaint Form.

Purpose: The EBO is intended to bring the City’s contracting practices in line with its non-discrimination policy and to promote a policy of “equal pay for equal work” for City contracts.

Effective Date: The EBO applies on all City contracts entered into, awarded, amended, renewed or extended on or after Jan. 1, 2011; some exceptions apply.

Contractor Requirements

When the EBO applies, a contractor shall:

  • Offer benefits equally for the duration of the contract in accordance with the EBO and the Rules Implementing the Equal Benefits Ordinance.
  • Certify compliance with EBO by signing the contract.
  • Provide City access to records, when requested, to confirm the provision of equal benefits.
  • Notify employees of the firm’s equal benefits policy at the time of hire and during open enrollment periods and conspicuously post a notice in the workplace that states:

“During the performance of a contract with the City of San Diego, the contractor will provide equal benefits to its employees with spouses and its employees with domestic partners.”

    Covered Employees

    When the EBO applies, contractors must offer equal benefits to:

    • All employees at contractor’s operations within City limits, regardless of whether employees at these locations perform work on the contract.
    • All employees at the contractor’s operations on property outside City limits if the property is owned or occupied by the City and the contractor’s presence is connected to the contract.
    • Only employees performing work on the City contract if employees are located outside of City limits but in the U.S.


    Benefits mean all remuneration other than wages, salary, bonuses, commissions and stock options offered to an employee as part of the total compensation package, including:

    • Health and medical benefits.
    • Pension and retirement benefits.
    • Family leave.
    • Bereavement leave.
    • Transportation and travel benefits.
    • Moving expenses.
    • Employee discounts.
    • Memberships or membership discounts.
    • No-additional-cost services.
    • Any other employment or fringe benefits.

    If a contractor does not offer any of these benefits to an employee with a spouse, then that same benefit is not required to be extended to an employee with a domestic partner.

    Cash Equivalent

    The City may allow a contractor to pay a cash equivalent in lieu of providing benefits to an employee's domestic partner if the contractor has made a reasonable, yet unsuccessful, effort to provide equal benefits. The contractor must send a letter of request to the City's Equal Benefits Program with supporting documentation. Additionally, the contractor must amend policies to extend benefits for which a cash equivalent for domestic partners is not available (such as bereavement leave) and must notify employees of the availability of a cash equivalent in lieu of equal benefits. City approval is required.


    The EBO does not apply to:

    • Subcontracts.
    • Sole source contracts with the state of California, counties, districts, public authorities, joint power agencies and any other public entity. This exception does not apply to nonprofit organizations or nonprofit corporations awarded a contract per San Diego Municipal Code Section 23.3222.
    • Cooperative procurement contracts.
    • Contracts with a contractor subject to a Collective Bargaining Agreement in effect prior to Jan. 1, 2011.
    • Contracts where the application of the EBO would violate state or federal laws, rules or regulations.

    EBO Reports and Notices

    EBO Resources

    For additional information, please contact:

    Equal Benefits Program
    City of San Diego Purchasing & Contracting Department
    1200 Third Ave., Suite 200, MS-56P
    San Diego, CA 92101
    Phone: 619-533-3948
    Fax: 619-533-3220