L.A. Mayor Issues Order Requiring Large Employers To Provide COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

COVID-19 Update

On March 27, 2020, the city of Los Angeles passed the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave ordinance (SPSLO), which was signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti on April 7, 2020. Article 5-72HH, Chap. XX, L.A. Mun. Code. However, the mayor entered an emergency public order the same day suspending and replacing the SPSLO during the period of the public health emergency (the Order). The Order is effective immediately and makes several significant modifications to the SPSLO. First, the Order indicates the law will apply to employers of 500 or more employees in L.A. or employers of 2,000 or more employees in the United States. Second, the Order exempts several categories of employers from the SPSLO, including emergency responders, healthcare providers, certain new businesses and certain employers that have granted more generous leave to employees already. Third, the Order makes certain technical changes to the SPSLO, including clarification that supplemental sick leave is available for actual infection with COVID-19, not just those displaying symptoms.

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Requirement

The law applies to any employee who performs any work in the city of Los Angeles and is employed by the employer from February 3, 2020, through March 4, 2020. Notably, this is more expansive than the city’s Minimum Wage Ordinance, which requires sick leave for employees only if two or more hours of work are performed in the city of Los Angeles. Among other things, the law requires:

(a) 80 hours of Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to full-time employees (those who work 40 hours per week or are classified as full-time by employer), paid based on an employee’s average two-week pay between February 3, 2020, through March 4, 2020; and

(b) For all other employees, an amount equal to their average two-week pay between February 3, 2020, through March 4, 2020.

These amounts are subject to a cap of $511/day per employee and $5,110 in total, per employee. Employees are eligible for leave if they are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19.

Qualifying Reasons

(a) The employee takes time off because of a COVID-19 infection, or a public health official or healthcare provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;

(b) The employee takes time off work because the employee is at least 65 years old or has a health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease or a weakened immune system;

(c) The employee takes time off work because 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 isolation or self-quarantine; or

(d) The employee takes time off work because 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 or other public official’s recommendation.

Employer Exemptions

(a) Emergency and Health Services Personnel. Healthcare workers include any individual working at a healthcare facility as defined by Health and Safety Code § 1250, including hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and any of the following: physicians, osteopaths, podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, clinical social workers and physician assistants. Emergency personnel include all first responders, gang and crisis intervention workers, public health workers, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, law enforcement personnel, and related contractors and any others working for emergency services providers;

(b) Critical Parcel Delivery Employees. Employees of any global parcel delivery service;

(c) Generous PTO Policy. Employers who already provide paid time off to employees that equals at least 160 hours annually;

(d) New Businesses. Any new business that started in the city on or after September 4, 2019, through March 4, 2020, excluding constructions businesses and film producers (as those terms are defined in the Municipal Code);

(e) Government Employees; and

(f) Closed Businesses. Any business that was closed or not operating for a period of 14 or more days due to a city official’s emergency order because of COVID-19, or that provided at least 14 days of leave to employees.

Finally, employers should note that unlike other forms of leave, employers may not require employees to provide a doctor’s note or other documentation to use Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.

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