Monday, July 6, 2020

City of LA Supplemental Paid Sick Leave due to COVID-19

On March 27, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance that Mayor EricGarcetti signed into law on April 7, 2020. This supplemental paid leave ordinance istargeting larger employers with employees working within the geographic boundaries ofthe City of Los Angeles. Below is a brief summary of some of the key issues addressed inthis new law.

Which employers are affected? An employer that has either 500 or more employeeswithin the City of Los Angeles or 2,000 or more employees within the United States. Forthose with 2,000 or more employees within the US, it applies to employers that employworkers in LA. Also, if a collective bargaining agreement is in place as of April 7, 2020,that does not address COVID-19 related sick leave, the employer must comply with theorder until the agreement is amended to expressly waive the terms.

When is this paid sick leave effective? April 7, 2020. It expires two weeks after theexpiration of the COVID-19 local emergency period. Are there exemptions? Yes, thereare six exemptions for which an employer above may qualify.

  1. Emergency and health services personnel. (Pleasenote, for purposes of this law,an employer of an employee who is a “health care worker” shall be exempt fromthis Order. These include individuals described in Cal. Gov. Code section 12945.2(c)(6) [i.e. physicians, surgeons, podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists,optometrists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, clinical socialworkers, physician assistants – but not medical assistants, registered nurses, orother employees within a healthcare facility] and those working at health facilitieslicensed under California Health and Safety Code section 1250 [i.e. facilitiesproviding 24 hour or more care, such as hospitals, skilled nursing facilities,hospices, etc.].)
  2. Critical parcel delivery employees.
  3. Employers who have a paid leave or paid time off policy that provides a minimumof 160 hours of paid leave annually.
  4. New businesses that started in the City or relocated to the City on or after September 4, 2019 through March 4, 2020.
  5. Government employees.
  6. Closed businesses and organizations—any business or organization that wasclosed or not operating for a period of 14 or more days due to a city official’semergency order because of the COVID-19 pandemic or provided at least 14 daysof leave shall be exempt from the Order.
Which employees may apply for the supplemental paid sick leave? An employeewho has been employed with the employer from Feb. 3, 2020 through March, 4, 2020,and performs any work within the geographic boundaries of LA.

What are the qualifying reasons for an employee being granted this paid sickleave? The employee must be unable to work or telework for one of the four qualifyingreasons listed below:

  1. The employee takes time off due to COVID-19 infection or because a public healthofficial or healthcare provider requires or recommends the employee isolate orself-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  2. The employee takes time off work because the employee is at least 65 years old orhas a health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes,kidney disease, or weakened immune system;
  3. The employee takes time off work because the employee needs to care for a familymember who is not sick but who public health officials or healthcare providers haverequired or recommended isolation or self-quarantine; or
  4. The employee takes time off work because the employee needs to provide care fora family member whose senior care provider or whose school or child care providercaring for a child under the age of 18 temporarily ceases operations in response toa public health or other public official’s recommendation. This provision is onlyapplicable to an employee who is unable to secure a reasonable alternativecaregiver.
What documentation can the employer request to grant leave for these qualifyingreasons? This leave must be granted upon oral or written request and no doctor’s note orother documentation is required.

Can an employer offset the amount of paid sick leave under this ordinance? Yes.The employer’s obligation to provide 80 hours of paid sick leave for this ordinance isreduced for every hour an employer allowed an employee to take paid leave in an amount equal to or greater than the requirements of this ordinance, not including previouslyaccrued hours, after March 4, 2020, for any reasons set forth above in response to anemployee’s inability to work due to COVID-19. This supplemental paid sick leave ordinanceis in addition to California/Los Angeles mandated paid sick leave.

Amount of Leave: If an employee is unable to work or telework, they are entitled to leaveas follows:

  1. An employee who works at least 40 hours per week or is classified as a full-timeemployee by the employer shall receive 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave.Supplemental paid sick leave shall be calculated based on an employee’s averagetwo week pay over the period of February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020.
  2. An employee who works less than 40 hours per week and is not classified as afull-time employee by the employer shall receive supplemental paid sick leave in anamount no greater than the employee’s average two week pay over the period ofFebruary 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020. In no event shall the supplemental paidsick leave amount paid to an employee exceed $511 per day and $5,110 in theaggregate.

Should you have any questions or need any assistance with this new legislation, please feel free to contact D Vasquez Law.

This publication is general in nature and is not intended to replace professional legal advice. Questions regarding specific matters or circumstances should be discussed with legal counsel.

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