Los Angeles Requires Large Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor
April 9, 2020
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has issued an emergency order requiring large employers to provide employees with supplemental paid sick leave for reasons related to the coronavirus (COVID‑19) pandemic.
The order supersedes an ordinance that was enacted by the city council on the same day, and slightly relaxes the scope of coverage. Garcetti said he made the modifications to avoid imposing "excessive burdens and costs upon businesses" and to prevent staffing shortages at hospitals and critical health facilities.
The order is intended to fill a gap in coverage left by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which does not apply to large employers. It will remain in effect until two calendar weeks after Los Angeles' local state of emergency expires.
Supplemental Paid Sick Leave
Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave under the mayor's order, calculated based on their average two-week pay from February 3 through March 4 of this year. Part-time employees are entitled to their average two-week pay over the same period.
Supplemental paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 total.
There is an offset provision that reduces an employer's obligation to provide supplemental paid sick leave for every hour it allowed an employee to take paid leave on or after March 4 in an amount equal to or greater than what the mayor's order requires.
However, as the name implies, supplemental paid sick leave under the mayor's order is in addition to rights available to employees under any other law other than the FFCRA - including, presumably, Los Angeles' existing paid sick leave law and any other state and local paid sick leave laws.
The new order applies to any employer with either:
- 500 or more employees within the City of Los Angeles; or
- 2,000 or more employees within the United States.
An employee is eligible for supplemental paid sick leave if they:
- Perform any work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Los Angeles for an employer;
- Have been employed by the same employer from February 3 through March 4 of this year; and
- Are unable to work or telework.
There are exemptions for:
- Health care workers (as defined under state law);
- Certain emergency personnel, including first responders, law enforcement personnel, public health workers, emergency management personnel and emergency dispatchers;
- Employees of global parcel delivery services;
- Employees who have received more generous paid leave under a paid leave or paid time off policy that provides a minimum of 160 hours of paid leave annually;
- Employees of certain new businesses that started in Los Angeles or relocated to Los Angeles on or after September 4, 2019, through March 4, 2020;
- Employees of government agencies; and
- Employees of businesses that were closed or not operating for a period of 14 or more days due to a Los Angeles emergency order or that provided at least 14 days of leave.
Reasons for Leave
Employers must provide supplemental paid sick leave upon the oral or written request of an employee if the employee takes time off for any of the following reasons:
- A public health official or healthcare provider requires or recommends that the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
- The employee is at least 65 years old;
- The employee has a health condition such as:
- Heart disease;
- Lung disease;
- Kidney disease; or
- A weakened immune system;
- 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
- 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 (note: this provision applies only to employees who are unable to secure a reasonable alternative caregiver).
Employers may not require a doctor's note or other documentation.
Employers that violate the mayor's order may be required to:
- Reinstate employees who were discharged;
- Pay back pay and supplemental paid sick leave, calculated at the employee's average rate of pay; and/or
- Provide other legal or equitable relief, including reasonable attorney fees and costs.