Los Angeles Provides Guidance on Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
Written by Jeremy Mittman and Stephen Franz
On April 11, 2020, the City of Los Angeles published Rules and Regulations interpreting the City’s Emergency Ordinance (“the Ordinance”), which mandates employers of either (a) 500 or more employees within the City of Los Angeles; or (b) 2,000 or more employees within the United States, to offer supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons.
Here are the top 5 new takeaways for employers interpreting the Ordinance from the Rules and Regulations:
- Employees Telecommuting in Los Angeles Are Covered: An employee who performs work or teleworks inside the geographic boundaries of the City of Los Angeles is covered by the Ordinance, even if his/her employer is based outside of the City or the employee’s regular workplace is outside the City. For example, an employee who normally works for a company at a location outside the City, but is telecommuting from a home inside the City, would be covered by the Ordinance.
- Employees Performing Any Work Within the City Are Covered: The Ordinance applies to employers with 500 or more employees within the City of Los Angeles. A worker shall be counted as an “employee within the City of Los Angeles” if he/she performed any work within the City’s geographic boundaries in the previous calendar year. In the example provided by the City, an employee who works for a company located in Riverside, California who makes monthly deliveries to a client located in the City would be covered by the Ordinance.
- Employers with “Generous Leave” Policies Exempt from Ordinance: An employer with a paid leave or paid time off policy that provides employees with 160 hours or more of paid leave on an annual basis is exempt from providing supplemental paid sick leave to those employees. This includes, but is not limited to, paid vacation time, compensated time off, and paid sick leave. Paid holidays and access to paid bereavement leave do not count toward the 160 hour minimum. Moreover, any employee who does not receive 160 hours or more of annual paid leave remains eligible for supplemental paid sick leave.
- “Closed Businesses” Exempt from Ordinance: Any employer that was closed or not operating for a period of 14 or more days due to a City official’s emergency order because of the COVID-19 pandemic, or who provided at least 14 days of “leave”, is exempt from the Ordinance. “Leave” may be paid or unpaid and may include days that an employee is furloughed. To qualify, a business must be closed or not operating for 14 or more consecutive days, any time on or after March 4, 2020.
- Limited Documentation of Need for Leave Required: An employer may not require a doctor’s note or other documentation for the use of the paid sick leave. Furthermore, an employer may not inquire into or require an employee to provide a description or explanation of the illness or condition necessitating the employee’s leave. However, an employer may require an employee to, verbally or in writing, provide the reason for taking leave — such as child care, quarantine, vulnerable medical condition, caring for a family member — for purposes of recordkeeping.
Employers should consult the Rules and Regulations, or their trusted employment counsel, for further guidance.