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LA Passes COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law for Large Employers
Mar 28, 2020

LA Passes COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law for Large Employers


Last night the LA City Council passed a new paid sick leave ordinance applicable to large employers (those with more than 500 employees nationally that are not covered by the new federal COVID-19 paid leave law, the FFCRA).  The ordinance applies to employers with more than 500 employees nationally.  Covered employees are those who have worked for the same employer from February 3 to March 4, 2020, and who perform any work in the City of Los Angeles.  It applies to full time, part time, and temporary employees.  The only employees who are exempted are health care providers (as defined by California Government Code section 12945.2) and first responders, which the ordinance defines as employees of state or local public agencies who are peace officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, public safety dispatchers or safety telecommunicators, emergency response communication employees, and rescue personnel.

The ordinance requires up to 80 hours of paid sick leave (on top of any existing paid sick leave policies) for Covid-19 reasons up until December 31, 2020, which are defined to include

  • time off because a public health official or health provider requires or recommends the Employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • the employee takes time off because they are at least 65 years old or has a health condition that puts them at higher risk;
  • 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 self-quarantine;
  • the employee needs to provide care to family member whose senior care provider, school, or child care provider is closed.

If, after March 4, 2020, the employer has provided paid leave to covered employees for COVID-19 reasons (on top of the employee’s accrued paid leave) the company gets a credit for those hours (it reduces the 80 hour bucket required by the ordinance).

The paid sick leave pay is calculated using the employee’s average two-week pay from February 3, 2020 to March 4, 2020. Part-time employees are entitled to sick leave pay in an amount no greater than their average two week pay from February 3, 2020 to March 4, 2020.  Sick leave pay is capped at $511 per day, $5,110 in aggregate (borrowed from the new federal FFCRA, but without the payroll tax break).   Employees of joint employers are not allowed to double dip.

Employers may not require a doctor’s note or other documentation to use the paid sick leave.

The rights under the ordinance cannot be waived, except in a collective bargaining agreement with a clear and unmistakeable, mutual agreement to waive the provisions of the ordinance.

The ordinance, which includes an “urgency” clause, now proceeds to the Mayor’s office for signature and will then take effect immediately upon publication.  Not sure when that will be, but likely very soon.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
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