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March 30, 2020

LA City Council Passes COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

On March 27, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council passed Article 5-72HH requiring businesses with 500 or more employees nationally to provide up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to employees who work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Los Angeles. The ordinance supplements the paid sick leave provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which applies to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

Full and Part-Time Employees Covered. To be eligible for paid sick leave, employees must have been employed during the period from February 3, 2020, to March 4, 2020, as follows:

1. Full-time employees (those who work more than 40 hours per week) receive 80 hours of paid sick leave calculated based on the employee’s average two week pay from February 3, 2020, to March 4, 2020.

2. Part-time employees (those who work fewer than 40 hours per week) receive paid sick leave no greater than the employee’s average two week pay from February 3, 2020, to March 4, 2020.

Paid sick leave is limited to $511 per day, and is not to exceed $5,100 total.

Four Covered Reasons for Leave. An employer must provide paid sick leave upon the oral or written request of an employee if the employee takes time off because of the following reasons:

1. A public health official or healthcare provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;

2. The employee is at least 65 years old or has a specified health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease or weakened immune system;

3. 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

4. The employee needs to provide care for a family member whose senior care provider or whose school or child care provider temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation.

An employer may not require a doctor’s note or other documentation for the use of supplemental paid sick leave.

Exemptions and Offsets. Employers of first responders or health care workers are exempt from the ordinance. The provisions may be expressly waived in a collective bargaining agreement.

An employer’s obligation to provide 80 hours of leave is reduced for every hour that an employer allowed an employee to take leave for a covered reason listed above on or after March 4, 2020.

Penalties for Noncompliance. Employers may not retaliate against employees who request or take supplemental paid leave. An employee claiming a violation of the article may bring a lawsuit against the employer in California Superior Court and may be awarded (1) reinstatement, (2) back pay and supplemental paid sick leave, and (3) if the employee prevails, attorneys’ fees as part of recoverable costs.

Ordinance Effective Immediately. The ordinance was brought under an urgency clause and goes into effect immediately upon publication. It expires on December 31, 2020, unless extended by the City Council.

The full text of the draft ordinance can be read here:

This summary provides an overview of the law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

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