Los Angeles Issues Rules and Regulations Detailing Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Requirements
Los Angeles Issues Rules and Regulations Detailing Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Requirements

We recently discussed the Los Angeles Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (“LA SPSLO”), which requires certain employers to provide supplemental paid sick leave benefits to its employees for purposes relating to COVID-19. Following the issuance of this Emergency Order, on April 11, 2020, the Los Angeles Office of Wage Standards issued rules and regulations intended to help affected businesses better understand their responsibilities under the new LA SPSLO. These new regulations provide clarity on the following issues:

Determining Who Is An Employer

The LA SPSLO applies to an employer that has either:

  • 500 or more employees within the City of Los Angeles; or
  • 2,000 or more employees within the United States.

The size of an employer’s business is determined by the average number of employees employed during the previous calendar year. The number of employees includes:

  • Full-time employees,
  • Part-time employees,
  • Temporary or seasonal employees, and
  • Workers supplied through a temporary employment agency.

In addition, an employee who worked in multiple locations is considered an employee within the City of Los Angeles if that employee performed any work within Los Angeles’ geographic boundaries in the previous calendar year.

Determining Who Is A Covered Employee

A covered employee is any individual who:

  • Has been employed with the same employer from February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020;
  • Performs any work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Los Angeles; and
  • Is unable to work or telework for that employer.

For example, an employee who works for a company located outside of Los Angeles, but makes monthly deliveries to a client located in Los Angeles would be a “covered employee” under the LA SPSLO if the employee is now unable to make these deliveries or perform other work for this company due to COVID-19.

In addition, a remote employee would be considered a covered employee under the LA SPSLO under the following two circumstances:

  • The employee is performing the remote work from a location inside Los Angeles’ geographic boundaries. 
    • This is true even if the employer is based outside of Los Angeles or the employee’s regular workplace is outside of Los Angeles;
  • The employee normally works for a company at a location within Los Angeles.
    • This is true even if the employee is working remotely from a location outside of Los Angeles.

Employees who normally work for a company located outside Los Angeles and are telecommuting from a location outside of Los Angeles are not covered employees under the LA SPSLO.

Exemptions from the LA SPSLO

There are six exemptions to the LA SPSLO.  Employers who qualify for one of the below listed exemptions are not required to provide the supplemental paid sick leave benefits.

  • More Generous Paid Leave Benefits: Employers who currently have a paid time off policy (e.g. vacation, PTO or paid sick leave) that provides employees with 160 or more hours of paid leave annually are exempt from the LA SPSLO.  Paid holidays and paid bereavement leave do not count toward the 160 hour minimum.
    • NOTE: Any employee who does not receive 160 hours or more of annual paid leave is covered by the LA SPSLO.
  • Closed Businesses: Businesses that were closed or not operating for 14 or more days due to a city official’s emergency order because of the COVID-19 pandemic are exempt from the LA SPSLO.
  • New Businesses:  Any new businesses that opened in Los Angeles or relocated to Los Angeles between September 4, 2019 and March 4, 2020 are exempt from the LA SPSLO. 
    • NOTE: Construction businesses and film producers do not qualify for the new business exemption.
  • Emergency or Health Care Services Providers: The exemption extends to all employees of Emergency or Health Care Services Providers — including those employees who do not directly provide these services (like a security guard who is employed by a hospital).
  • Providers of Global Parcel Delivery Services: The exemption extends to all employees of Global Parcel Delivery Service providers.
  • Government Agencies: The exemption extends to all employees of government agencies working within the course and scope of their public service employment. 
    • NOTE: Contractors of the government agencies are not exempt from the LA SPSLO.
    • It is AALRR’s understanding that the Order excludes employees of public entities, including special districts.

In addition to the foregoing exemptions, employers who are subject to collective bargaining agreements may qualify for a waiver of the LA SPSLO requirements under the following circumstances.

  • Existing Agreement — A collective bargaining agreement that was in place on the effective date of the LA SPSLO may supersede the provisions of the LA SPSLO if the CBA contains COVID-19 related sick leave provisions.
  • Expired/Renegotiated Agreement — When the CBA expires or is otherwise open for renegotiation, the provisions of the LA SPSLO may only be expressly waived if the waiver is explicitly set forth in the agreement in clear and unambiguous terms.
  • Amended Agreement — If a CBA is in place on the effective date of the LA SPSLO but the CBA does not address COVID-19 related sick leave provisions, the employer must comply with the LA SPSLO unless and until the CBA is amended to expressly waive the COVID-19 related sick leave provisions in clear and unambiguous terms set forth in the CBA.

Handling Employee Requests for LA SPSLO Leave

An employee’s request for LA SPSLO may be oral or written.  Covered employees can take LA SPSLO for the following purposes:

  • To take time off due to COVID-19 infection or because a public health official or healthcare provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • To take 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 weakened immune system;
  • To take 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
  • To take 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.
    • NOTE: This provision is only applicable to an employee who is unable to secure a reasonable alternative caregiver.

In addition, employers are not permitted to require that an employee provide any official documentation (e.g. doctor’s note, official notice of school closure) to take this supplemental paid sick leave.  The employer can only require that an employee provide (either verbally or in writing) the reason for taking leave for purposes of employer recordkeeping.

If employers have already provided employees with paid leave since March 4, 2020 for COVID-19 related purposes, the employer is able to offset any of those paid leave hours against the 80-hours of supplemental paid sick leave benefits.  For example, if the covered employee was provided with 40 hours of paid administrative leave during a mandatory self-quarantine period, the 40 hours of paid administrative leave would partially offset the employer’s obligation to provide 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave benefits and the employer would only be required to provide 40 additional hours of supplemental paid sick leave to that employee.

Finally, employers are prohibited from retaliating against any employee for requesting to use or actually using LA SPSLO benefits.

The LA SPSLO remains in effect until two (2) calendar weeks after the expiration of the COVID-19 emergency period. 

If you have any questions, please contact the authors or your usual employment law counsel at AALRR.

These AALRR publications are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other AALRR presentation/publication does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Firm is not responsible for inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process.

©2020 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo

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