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City of Los Angeles enacts new sick pay ordinance

John Viola Keith Rasher April 1, 2020

Following the passage of the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Ordinance by the Los Angeles City Council, which is expected to be signed by the Mayor shortly and go into effect immediately thereafter, all employers within the City of Los Angeles who are not already doing so must provide all employees with two weeks (80 hours) of supplemental, paid sick leave, so that employees may self-quarantine or seek medical treatment related to COVID-19 symptoms.

The Ordinance seeks to ensure individuals who work for employers with more than 500 employees or more receive two weeks of paid COVID-19-related leave, after the Families First Coronavirus Response Act extended those protections only to employers with less than 500 employees.

The Ordinance covers employees who were employed from February 3, 2020 to March 4, 2020.

Employees will be eligible to use the additional paid leave if: (1) the employee is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine order; (2) the employee is at least 65 years old or has a health condition, such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, or a weakened immune system; (3) the employee is caring for an individual who has been quarantined or advised by a medical provider to quarantine; or (4) the employee is caring for their child due to a school or childcare closure and is unable to work remotely.

Employees may request the additional paid sick leave orally or in writing, and are not required to provide a doctor’s note to substantiate the reasons for taking the leave. There are exceptions to the Ordinance, such as healthcare providers or first responders, and employees may waive the supplemental paid sick leave if they are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that is bilaterally modified.

The paid sick leave will be paid at the employees’ regular rates of pay, with a maximum accrual of $511 per day. Importantly, this ordinance gives an eligible employee the right to sue their employer in court where they are not provided this benefit.

John Viola and Keith Rasher are members of Thompson Coburn’s Labor and Employment practice group.

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