City of Los Angeles Updates Its Expanded Paid Sick Leave Protections for Workers at Big Companies as COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

4 min

On April 7, 2020, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an Emergency Order expanding paid sick leave protections to employees in the City of Los Angeles who work for large businesses. The Order supersedes a local ordinance previously approved by the Los Angeles City Council on March 27, 2020 that also sought to provide City of Los Angeles employees with supplemental paid sick leave.

The Order applies only to businesses with either (1) 500 or more employees in the City of Los Angeles; or (2) 2,000 or more employees nationwide. However, a number of businesses that meet these size requirements are exempted from the Order, and thus will not be required to provide supplemental paid sick leave to City of Los Angeles employees. The exemptions are as follows:

  1. Employers of Emergency and Health Services Personnel. Emergency Personnel is defined in the Los Angeles Safer at Home Order. Health Services Personnel are those individuals described in California Government Code section 12945.2(c)(6) (including certain physicians and surgeons) or those working at a health facility licensed under California Health and Safety Code section 1250.
  2. Providers of critical parcel delivery services. An employer of an employee who provides global parcel delivery services.
  3. Employers already providing "generous leave." A paid time off policy granting 160 or more hours of paid leave annually will be considered a generous leave policy.
  4. New businesses. A new business is one that opened in the City or relocated from outside the City on or after September 4, 2019 through March 4, 2020. This exemption does not apply to any businesses that operated in the City during the 2018 tax year, nor to construction or film production businesses.
  5. Government. Employees of government agencies working within the course and scope of their public service employment are exempt from this Order.
  6. Closed businesses and organizations. Businesses and organizations that were closed for a period of 14 days or more due to the City's emergency order because of the COVID-19 pandemic or already provided at least 14 days of leave to employees.

While Los Angeles has long required employers to provide up to forty-eight (48) hours of paid sick leave annually, the new Order requires employers to provide an additional eighty (80) hours of paid sick leave to eligible full-time employees. Part-time employees are eligible for an amount equal to the employee's average two-week pay over the period beginning February 3, 2020 and ending March 4, 2020. The supplemental paid sick leave provided for in the Order can be used only for the following reasons:

  1. The employee is suffering from a COVID-19 infection, or a public health official or healthcare provider has required or recommended that the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  2. The employee is at least 65 years old or has certain underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or a weakened immune system;
  3. The employee needs to take care of a family member who is not sick but for whom public health officials or healthcare providers have required or recommended isolation or self-quarantine; or
  4. The employee needs to provide care for a family member whose senior care provider or whose school or child care provider caring for a child under the age of 18 temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health official's or other public official's recommendation. This provision is applicable only to employees who are unable to secure a reasonable alternative caregiver.

To be eligible for supplemental paid sick leave under the Order, employees must have worked for the same employer from February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020.

Supplemental paid sick leave may be capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate. Covered employers must grant supplemental paid sick leave at the employee's oral request and may not require a doctor's note or other documentation.

The Order is in effect as of April 7, 2020 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2020. The full text of the Order is here.

The Order does not apply to employers with both (1) fewer than 500 employees in the City of Los Angeles and (2) fewer than 2,000 employees nationwide.