Los Angeles Mayor Approves COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave with Changes

By Susan E. Groff and Michelle K. Meek © Jackson Lewis April 13, 2020
woman sick at home

On March 27, the City of Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance requiring that employers with 500 or more employees nationally offer 80 hours of Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to employees who perform work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Los Angeles for various COVID-19 related reasons. 

However, on April 7, Mayor Eric Garcetti largely replaced and superseded the ordinance passed by the city council through public order under the mayor's emergency authority.  Here is a summary of the mayor's public order, which took effect on April 10.

Covered Employer

The public order applies to employers that have either: (1) 500 or more employees within the city of Los Angeles, or (2) 2,000 or more employees within the U.S. This is a change from the original ordinance which applied to employers of 500 or more nationally.

Covered Reasons

Covered reasons for the supplemental paid sick leave in the public order still include the following reasons as found in the city council's passed version:

  • Time off because a "public health official or health provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19."
  • The employee takes time off because he or she is at least 65 years old or has a health condition that puts them at risk.
  • The employee 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.
  • The employee needs to provide care to a family member whose senior care provider, school or childcare provider is closed.

Both the ordinance and the public order prohibit employers from requiring a doctor's note or other documentation to use the supplemental paid sick leave.

Caps on Payments

The public order caps the total amount to be paid to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.

Employer Offset

An employer's obligation to provide the 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave under the public order is reduced for every hour an employer allowed an employee to take paid leave in an amount equal or greater than the requirements outlined in the public order, not including previously accrued hours.

New Exemptions Found in the Public Order

The city council's ordinance exempted only first responders from the provision of paid sick leave. The mayor's public order includes the following broader list of exemptions:

  • Emergency and health services personnel. Employers of emergency personnel as defined by the city's prior shelter-in-place order or health care workers as defined under the Government Code.
  • Critical parcel delivery. Employers that provide global parcel delivery services, which has been deemed an essential emergency service.
  • Generous leave. Employers who offer paid leave or paid time off that provides a minimum of 160 hours of paid leave annually.
  • New business exemption. Businesses that opened in the city and businesses that relocated to the city during the period Sept. 4, 2019, through March 4, 2020. To qualify for the exemption, the business could not have been a business within the city of Los Angeles in the 2018 tax year. However, this exemption does not apply to construction businesses or film producers.
  • Government. Government agencies working within the course and scope of their public service employment.
  • Closed businesses and organizations. 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 the covid-19 pandemic or provided at least 14 days of leave.
  • Collective bargaining. A collective bargaining agreement in place on the effective date of the public order may supersede the provisions of this order if it contains COVID-19 related sick leave provisions. when the collective bargaining agreement expires or is otherwise open for renegotiation, the provisions of the public order may only be expressly waived if the waiver is explicitly set forth in the agreement in clear and unambiguous terms.

The public order remains in effect until two calendar weeks after the expiration of the COVID-19 local emergency period.

Susan E. Groff is an attorney with Jackson Lewis in Los Angeles. Michelle K. Meek is an attorney with Jackson Lewis in San Diego. © 2020 Jackson Lewis. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission.  



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