Paid Sick Leave Expanding Into Los Angeles and Chicago

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

UPDATE: The amendments to the Los Angeles Minimum Wage Ordinance and the Chicago Minimum Wage Ordinance have passed.

April 27, 2016

Employers in Los Angeles and Chicago may need to comply with new sets of paid sick leave rules based on proposed amendments to local minimum wage ordinances. Paid leave expansion in these municipalities is part of a larger, national trend, with California employers experiencing a particularly eventful year. The increase in paid sick leave protections has been checked by a rise in state preemption legislation and by the vocal opposition of prominent business groups, often representing small employers or certain affected industries.

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Council has tentatively approved a proposal to amend its Minimum Wage Ordinance to require employers to adopt a policy of providing at least six days of paid sick leave per year to eligible employees.

The City Council adopted the original Economic Development Committee proposal, which provides that an employee may accrue leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, and allows employees to carry over at least 72 hours of leave, with amendments. The amendments include:

  • A clause that provides businesses with the option of requiring employees to provide documentation after taking more than three consecutive days of sick leave; and
  • A one-year exemption for employers with fewer than 25 employees.

The ordinance would take effect on July 1, 2016, if passed by the City Council within the next few weeks and if it is then signed by the mayor. Enactment is likely, however: Mayor Eric Garcetti publicly supported the ordinance, saying paid sick leave "means a world of difference to working people and their families. That's why it's important for L.A. to not just comply with state law, but take it a step further on behalf of our people."


Similarly, the Chicago City Council has proposed an amendment to the Chicago Minimum Wage Ordinance that would require employers to provide at least five days, or 40 hours, of paid sick leave per year to eligible employees.

An employee would be covered under the amendments if he or she works at least 80 hours for an employer within any 120-day period.

The ordinance does not require an employer to pay out any accrued and unused sick leave upon an employee's separation from employment (a clause also included in the Los Angeles proposal).

An employee may use paid sick leave when:

  • He or she, or a member of his or her family, is ill or injured, or for the purpose of receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis or preventive medical care;
  • He or she, or a member of his or her family, is the victim of domestic violence;
  • His or her place of business is closed due to a public health emergency, or he or she needs to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed due to a public health emergency.

An employer may not require a covered employee to search for or find a replacement worker to cover the hours during which he or she is on paid sick leave. In addition, an employer may not use its attendance policy to count paid sick leave as an absence that triggers discipline or any other adverse employment action.

The proposed ordinance includes notice-posting requirements. Specifically, an employer must:

  • Conspicuously post a notice informing employees of their rights under the ordinance; and
  • Provide a notice of rights in an employee's first paycheck issued following the effective date of the ordinance.

The ordinance would take effect on July 1, 2017 if passed.