Los Angeles City passed a new paid sick leave ordinance on March 27, 2020, created to close a “loophole” under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Indeed, this new city ordinance, which is only applicable to employers with 500 or more employees, provides up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees for COVID-19-related reasons. The benefit is in addition to paid sick leave already required under state and other local law. Notably, employers must provide the supplemental paid sick leave upon a verbal or written request from the employee, and may not require a doctor’s note or other documentation. Further, a waiver by an employee of such rights (i.e., in a separation agreement) is deemed contrary to public policy and unenforceable.
Although Mayor Garcetti has yet to sign the ordinance, it is anticipated that he will do so this week. If and once signed, the ordinance will be effective immediately and remain in effect until December 31, 2020.
A summary of the eligibility requirements are as follows:
As applicable to unions and union employers, provisions of the new law may be waived in a collective bargaining agreement if the waiver is explicitly set forth in the agreement in clear and unambiguous terms, modified by all parties to the agreement.
The leave may be used for the following purposes:
The amount of sick leave provided depends on the status of the employee as a full-time or part-time worker.
As stated above, this city ordinance is in addition to other paid sick leave required by the state and city. However, if a company has already provided additional COVID-19-related leave to employees since March 4, 2020, the employer can subtract those hours from the 80-hour requirement. This offset does not apply if the paid leave provided was from previously accrued time off or other paid sick leave policies.
Violation of the ordinance can come with hefty fees and costs. Specifically, an employee who claims that their employer violated the ordinance can file a lawsuit in superior court. That employee may be awarded reinstatement, back pay, supplemental paid sick leave at the employee’s average rate of pay, attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as other relief that the court deems appropriate.
The ordinance strictly prohibits retaliation against employees for opposing any practice proscribed by this ordinance, for requesting to use or actually using supplemental paid sick leave, for participating in proceedings related to the ordinance, for seeking to enforce rights under the ordinance, or for otherwise asserting rights under the ordinance.
Employers who have 500 or more employees should review their current paid sick leave policies and speak with their employment counsel to ensure compliance and update as necessary.
Goldberg Segalla will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates and useful information, available on our COVID-19 Hub.
For more information or immediate guidance, contact: