October 27, 2021

Volume XI, Number 300

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Los Angeles City Ordinance Provides Additional COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave to Employees

On April 7, 2020, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law the ordinance recently passed by the Los Angeles City Council mandating that certain large employers offer up to 80 hours of “COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave” to employees working within the City of Los Angeles, with some notable modifications to the original ordinance.  The new law, which is effective immediately, was passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to supplement the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).  Here are answers to key questions regarding the new law (which have been updated to reflect Mayor Garcetti’s modifications):

Which employers must offer COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave?

Employers with (i) 500 or more employees within the City of Los Angeles; or (2) 2,000 or more employees nationally.  Some limited exceptions are noted below.

Which employees are eligible for the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave?

For an employee to be eligible, they:

  • Must work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Los Angeles;

  • Must have worked for the same employer from February 3, 2020 to March 4, 2020;

  • Must experience one of the following qualifying events:

    • A public health official or health provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19; or

    • The employee is at elevated risk because they are least 65 years old or has an underlying health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or weakened immune system; or

    • The employee needs to care for a family member who is not sick but who public health officials or health providers have required or recommended  isolate or self-quarantine; or

    • The employee needs to care for a family member because their senior care provider, school, or childcare provider is closed.  This is only applicable to an employee who is unable to secure a “reasonable alternative caregiver.”

  • Employers may not require a doctor’s note for the employee to utilize the supplemental leave, and must grant upon the oral or written request of an eligible employee.

How much sick leave must be provided to eligible employees under the new law?

  • Full-time employees can take up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, which shall be calculated based on an employee’s average two week pay over the period of February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020;

  • Part-time employees can take to up to the average number of hours they worked in a two-week span over the period of February 3, 2020 to March 4, 2020;

  • The total amount paid per day is capped at $511 and no more than $5,110 in the aggregate;

  • If an employee is jointly employed by two or more employers, they are only entitled to the aggregate amount of leave specified for employees of one employer.

Are there any exemptions?

Yes, the following individuals are exempt:

  • Emergency Personnel, including all first responders, gang and crisis intervention workers, public health workers, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, law enforcement personnel, and related contractors and others working for emergency services providers; 

  • Health care providers, including those defined by the U.S. Secretary of Labor to be capable of providing health care services under the FMLA and those working at a licensed health care facility;  

  • Employees that provide global parcel delivery services; and

  • Employees of government agencies working within the course and scope of their public service employment.

Additionally, the following employers are exempt from the new law:

  • Employers who have a paid leave or paid time off policy that provides a minimum of 160 hours of paid leave annually;

  • New businesses that started in the City or relocated from outside the City on or after September 4, 2019 through March 4, 2020, and were not in business in the City in the 2018 tax year.  Certain construction businesses and film producers are excluded from this exemption; and

  • Any business or organization that was closed or not operating for a period of 14 or more days due to a city official’s emergency order because of COVID-19 or provided at least 14 days of leave.

A collective bargaining agreement in place on the effective date of the new law may also supersede the new mandate if it contains COVID-19 related sick leave provisions.  When the collective bargaining agreement expires or is open for renegotiation, COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave can also be expressly waived if explicitly set forth in the agreement in clear and unambiguous terms.

When is the program effective?

The law is effective as of April 7, 2020 and will be effective until two calendar weeks after the expiration of the COVID-19 local emergency period. 

How does this program interact with the newly passed FFCRA?

It does not.  This ordinance only impacts employers with greater than 500 workers in aggregate.  The FFCRA only applies to employers with fewer than 500 workers in aggregate.  Regardless, the two leaves would run concurrently.

Is there any offset if our Company recently offered employees paid time off or other paid leave for these same reasons?

An employer’s obligation to provide COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is reduced for every hour the employer allowed the employee to take leave, not including previously accrued hours, for any of the reasons listed above on or after March 4, 2020.

COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is in addition to California or Los Angeles-mandated paid sick leave.

What happens if an employer does not comply with the new law?

Under the new ordinance, an employer must not retaliate against an employee for exercising their rights under the new law.  Any employee claiming a violation under this ordinance may file an action in the Superior Court of the State of California and may be awarded reinstatement, back pay and COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave unlawfully withheld, and other equitable relief.  A court may also award reasonable attorneys’ fees to a prevailing employee.

© Polsinelli PC, Polsinelli LLP in CaliforniaNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 101
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About this Author

Lindsay L. Ryan Principal Polsinelli Labor and Employment Employment Litigation
Partner

Lindsay is committed to providing reliable counsel to strategically solve client matters and address their litigation needs. Clients rely on Lindsay to develop solutions and effective arguments with respect to their complex legal challenges. Her practice focuses on advising employers on compliance with both state and federal requirements for disability accommodation, leaves of absence, wage and hour, harassment and discrimination complaints, workplace investigation, reductions in force, disciplinary actions and terminations. She represents clients in all forums, including state and federal...

310-203-5333
September Rea Principal Los Angeles Labor and Employment Employment Litigation
Principal

September Rea is a seasoned litigator in Polsinelli’s Employment Litigation practice with experience in all employment-related litigation forums including administrative, state, federal and arbitration. She routinely partners with clients as a trusted advisor to defend against employment-related action including age, religion, gender, race, national origin, disability, harassment, wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation and FMLA. A skilled mediator and negotiator, September works closely with clients to resolve employment matters as swiftly and cost-effectively as feasible. Her...

310-203-5366
ALex Polishuk Employment Attorney Polsinelli Los Angeles
Counsel

Alex Polishuk focuses his practice on navigating employers through the intricacies of California’s employment laws. An experienced litigator, Alex has successfully represented clients before state and federal courts, administrative agencies and arbitrators, for wage and hour, wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower, equal pay, breach of contract, antitrust, trade secret and disability accommodation claims.  Alex has extensive experience in representing employers in complex wage and hour claims, including class actions, collective and representative...

310.229.1320
Keia Atkinson Employment Attorney Polsinelli Law Firm
Associate

Keia James Atkinson advises clients on a wide variety of sensitive workplace matters, including single plaintiff and complex class action wage-and-hour litigation, high profile workplace investigations, compliance counseling, and high profile entertainment-sector employment law. Likewise, he assists clients with implementing appropriate policies and procedures to avoid disputes and to comply with state and federal law.

Keia’s litigation experience includes representing Fortune 100 companies in state and federal court and involving claims of unpaid wages, exempt-status,...

310.203.5335
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