Los Angeles Employers: Administer This New Policy, Stat!
In April, we wrote that Los Angeles City Council voted to enact a sick leave ordinance in Los Angeles, which will provide six days of paid sick leave to employees in the city. Last week, the City Council adopted the ordinance and made L.A.’s sick leave policy official.
Operative Date and Coverage
Pursuant to the new Ordinance, every employee who, on or after July 1, 2016, works in the City for the same employer for 30 days or more within a year of employment, is entitled to paid sick leave. Accrual of paid sick leave under the Ordinance must start on July 1, 2016 or on the first date of employment, whichever is later.
An “employee” is defined as any individual who performs at least two (2) hours of work in a particular week within the City (and qualifies as an employee under California Law).
An “employer” is defined as any person, including a corporate officer or executive who directly or indirectly, or through an agent or another person including through the services of a temporary service or staffing agency, employs or exercises control over the wages, hours or working conditions or any employee.
Thus, per the new Sick Leave Ordinance, the duty to comply is determined by the location of the employee. Further, the Ordinance may place individual liability on officers of the company and creates joint liability for client-employers. In that respect, the ordinance mirrors Labor Code 2810.3.
Use of Paid Sick Leave
While the California Paid Sick Leave Law requires employers to provide, at minimum, three days or 24 hours (the greater) of paid sick leave per year, Los Angeles Sick Leave Ordinance sets a minimum of 48 hours of paid sick leave per year of employment. Employers may either “front-load” the days or allow employees to accrue one (1) hour of paid sick leave per every 30 hours worked.
If accrued, employers may place a cap at 72 hours (or higher). Further, the LA Ordinance clarifies that if an employer has a paid leave or paid time off policy that is equal to or no less than 48 hours, no additional time is required.
The Ordinance is not only more generous in the amount of paid sick leave, but it also defines the permitted use more broadly. Thus, under the ordinance employees may use paid sick leave for themselves or a family member as defined by Labor Code 246.5(a) and 245.5(C), or for “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
Practical Implications for Employers
Review sick leave/paid time off policies to verify they comply with Los Angeles’s new requirements. As with state Paid Sick Leave Law any retaliation against employees for requesting to use paid sick leave or actually using paid sick leave, etc. is prohibited.
Further, while the new Ordinance allows employers to require reasonable documentation for absence from work for sick leave, note it is unclear whether this is permitted under California law.
Labor Code 247.5(b) states an employer is not obligated to inquire into or record the purpose for which an employee uses paid leave or paid time off. And in the FAQ regarding the state’s Sick Leave Law, the Department of Industrial Relations stated that if employees are subject to local sick leave ordinances, the employer must provide the provision or benefit that is most generous to the employee. As it is unclear whether “not obligated” is more generous than “may require” employers should consider consulting an employment attorney before asking employees to provide reasonable documentation.
Tal Burnovski Yeyni is an attorney in our Employment Practice Group.