April 1, 2020

Los Angeles Employers of 500+ Ordered To Provide Paid Sick Leave

** UPDATE April 9, 2020 **

Please see this post for an update on the the L.A. Ordinance

On March 27, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance that would require employers with 500 or more employees to provide 80 hours of paid sick leave. COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (the “Ordinance”) would be capped at $511 per day, and $5,110 in the aggregate. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the Ordinance into law.

The Ordinance purportedly fills a gap in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), passed by the U.S. Congress on March 18, 2020. Under the FFCRA, employers with 500 or fewer employees are required to provide paid sick leave to employees for certain COVID-19 related reasons. This Ordinance extends the FFCRA by also requiring Los Angeles employers with 500 or more employees to provide COVID-19-related paid sick leave.

Here are answers to questions we have received about the Ordinance:

Which employees are covered? The Ordinance provides paid sick leave rights to an individual who performs any work within the boundaries of the City of Los Angeles.

Does it matter whether the employee was full or part time? Yes. In order to qualify, employees must have worked for an employer from February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020, as follows:

  • Employees who worked at least 40 hours per week are deemed to be “full time” and are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave.
  • Employees who worked fewer than 40 hours per week and are not classified as full time by the employer get paid sick leave in an amount no greater than their average two-week pay during the period of February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020.

Is there a cap on paid sick leave under the Ordinance? Yes. It is capped at $511 per day, and $5,110 in the aggregate.

Why can employees request paid sick leave under the Ordinance? There are four permitted reasons:

  1. a public health official or health provider requires or recommends he self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  2. he is at least 65 years old or has a health condition that puts him at risk;
  3. he needs to care for a family member who is not sick, but who public health officials or healthcare providers have required or recommended self-quarantine;
  4. he is not sick but needs to provide care to family member whose senior care provider, school, or child care provider is closed.

Can employers request a doctor’s note? No.

Must the request be in writing? No.

Are certain industries exempted? Only first responders (defined as peace officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMT’s, public safety dispatchers, safety telecommunicators, emergency response communications employees, rescue service) and health care providers are exempted.

What if we operate under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA)? The rights provided in the Ordinance can be explicitly waived in a CBA.

How long do these rights last? Until December 31, 2020, unless rescinded first by the City of Los Angeles.

Questions about COVID-19 and the workplace? Contact the Hirschfeld Kraemer lawyer who normally provides your legal advice, or you can contact Dan Handman, a partner in the Los Angeles office, at (310) 255-1820 or dhandman@hkemploymentlaw.com.

For additional employer-focused information about COVID-19: