County of Los Angeles Enacts Retroactive Paid Sick Leave for Large Employers

Chrystal Ferber | Associate

April 30, 2020

On April 28, 2020, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a Supplemental Paid Sick Leave urgency ordinance that requires specified large employers to provide up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave. The ordinance is retroactive from March 31, 2020 and will continue until December 31, 2020 (unless extended by the Board of Supervisors).

Large employers whose workforce spans both the City of L.A. and unincorporated areas of L.A. County are encouraged to review the City of Los Angeles’ Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Order to determine which COVID-19 related paid sick leave law applies to employees located in each region.

Covered Employers/Eligible Employees

The ordinance applies to private employers with 500 or more employees nationally.

An employee is entitled to supplemental paid sick leave if the individual performs any work within the unincorporated areas of L.A. County and has been employed by the employer since April 28, 2020.

The ordinance also cautions businesses utilizing independent contractors that workers are presumed to be employees.  

Permissible Uses

Under the ordinance, an employer must provide supplemental paid sick leave upon an employee’s written request (e.g. e-mail and text) if the employee is unable to work, or telework, because:

  1. A public health official or healthcare provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  2. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 (e.g., is at least 65 years old or has a specified health condition);
  3. The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or
  4. The employee is caring for a family member whose senior care provider or whose child’s school or childcare provider ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation.

“Family member” is limited to the employee’s child, parent, or spouse.

Amount of Paid Sick Leave

Employees classified as full-time, or who otherwise work at least 40 hours per week, will receive 80 hours of supplemental paid sick time. A full-time employee’s leave is calculated based on the employee’s highest average two-week pay period from January 1, 2020 through April 28, 2020.

Employees who work fewer than 40 hours per week and are not classified as full-time will receive leave in an amount no greater than the employee’s average two-week pay over the period of January 1, 2020 through April 28, 2020.

Supplemental paid sick leave shall not exceed $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate. Employees of joint employers are only entitled to the total aggregate amount of leave specified for employees of one employer.

Employer Offset

The ordinance allows an offset for each hour that an employer voluntarily provided additional paid leave for COVID-19 related purposes. However, an employee’s regular or previously accrued leaves (e.g., pre-existing vacation time or accrued paid sick leave) are explicitly excluded for offset purposes.

Exemptions

Emergency responders, health care providers, and food sector workers (as defined in Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-51-20) are exempt from the ordinance. The ordinance also does not apply to federal, state, or local government agencies.

Any waiver of the ordinance’s provisions in a collective bargaining agreement must be express, clear, and unambiguous terms.

Restrictions and Enforcement

Notably, unlike the City of Los Angeles’ Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Order, an employer may condition paid sick leave on an employee providing a doctor’s note or other documentation.

Supplemental paid sick leave must be provided in addition to any existing California paid sick leave the employee would otherwise receive. Additionally, employers may not require employees to use other forms of time off before, or in lieu of, using paid sick leave under the ordinance.

Failure to comply with the ordinance can result in costly litigation, as the ordinance allows aggrieved employees to seek reinstatement, back pay, supplemental paid sick leave at the employee’s average rate of pay, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Please reach out to a member of our Employment Practice Group if you have any questions and visit our COVID-19 Resource Page for more information on local and federal updates regarding COVID-19.

Chrystal Ferber is an employment defense attorney.

This information provides an overview of a specific developing situation. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact or situation.

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