Los Angeles City passed an ordinance on March 27, 2020 providing up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees for COVID-19-related reasons in addition to leave already required under state and local laws
The ordinance is only applicable to employers with 500 or more employees
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
Once Mayor Garcetti signs the ordinance (expected later this week) it will be effective immediately and remain in effect until December 31, 2020
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.
Which Employees Are Covered?
A summary of the eligibility requirements are as follows:
- Employer has 500 or more employees nationally
- Employee must have worked for the employer from February 3, 2020, to March 4, 2020
- Employers of healthcare providers or first responders are exempt from the ordinance
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.
When May an Employee Use the Paid Sick Leave?
The leave may be used for the following purposes:
- Because a public health official or health care provider requires or recommends that the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19
- Because the employee is at least 65 years old or has a health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or weakened immune system
- Because the employee needs to care for a family member who is not sick but who public health officials or health care providers have required or recommended isolation or self-quarantine
- Because the employee needs to provide care for a family member whose senior care provider or school or child care provider for a child under the age of 18 temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation
What Is Provided Under the Law?
The amount of sick leave provided depends on the status of the employee as a full-time or part-time worker.
- Full-time workers (defined as those who work 40 or more hours each week) are entitled to eighty hours of supplemental paid sick leave
- Paid leave is calculated based on the employee’s average two-week pay over the period of February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020
- Part-time workers (employees who work less than 40 hours per week), are able to collect in an amount no greater than their average two-week pay over the period of February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020
- The amount of pay a full-time or part-time employee can receive is capped at $511 per day or $5,110 total
How Does This Relate to Other Paid Sick Leave Laws?
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.
Private Right of Action and Violations
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.
What Are the Next Steps?
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: