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Los Angeles Increases Paid Sick Leave Benefits

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LOS ANGELES INCREASES PAID SICK LEAVE BENEFITS EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2016

Los Angeles City Council recently voted to increase the paid sick leave benefits required to be provided to employees working within the City of Los Angeles. These paid sick leave benefits are now double what the State of California has mandated. Below is a summary of the California Paid Sick Leave law with a summary and comparison of the Los Angeles ordinance.

CALIFORNIA LAW IN REVIEW

Effective July 1, 2015 the California Paid Sick Leave (PSL) law required employers to provide PSL either on a lump sum (front loaded) basis of 3 days/24 hours per 12 month period of time OR allow employees to accrue PSL at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.

California’s PSL law does not supersede any of the local ordinances so employers must comply with both the state and the local laws, or whichever is more favorable to employees.

LOS ANGELES PAID SICK LEAVE

Employees working within the City of Los Angeles for employers with 26 or more employees will be entitled to 48 hours of Paid Sick Leave pursuant to Los Angeles Ordinance No. 184320 which amends the City Municipal Code. Employees working for smaller companies (those with 25 or fewer employees) will be covered by the Los Angeles Sick leave law.

This Ordinance was originally passed to increase the city’s minimum wage but was amended to increase the paid sick leave.

WHO IS COVERED?

Similar to the provisions in the California PSL law, employees who work 30 days in Los Angeles within a year “from the commencement of employment” are covered and entitled to PSL. The following definitions applicable to this law are set forth in the City’s code:

Employee: an individual who performs two or more hours per week within the geographic boundaries of the City for an Employer.

Employer: Any person, association, organization, partnership, business trust, limited liability company, or corporation, and includes “a corporate officer or executive, who directly or indirectly or through an agent or any other person, including through the services of a temporary service or staffing agency or similar entity, employs or exercises control over the wages, hours or working conditions of any Employee.” Based on this language, corporate officers and executives may be held personally liable for any violations of the Ordinance.

SIZE OF EMPLOYER & DELAY OF IMPLEMENTATION:

  • For Employers with 26 or more Employees (including Non-Profit Corporations with or without the minimum wage rate deferral): Paid sick leave shall accrue on the first day of employment or July 1, 2016, whichever is later.
  • For Employers with 25 or fewer Employees: Paid sick leave shall accrue on the first day of employment or July 1, 2017, whichever is later.
  • Amount of Psl: Similar to the California PSL Employers have the choice of one of two methods:
    • Front Loading (Lump sum): Providing the entire 48 hours to an employee at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period.
    • Accrual Basis: Accruing PSL at the rate of one hour of sick leave per every thirty 30 hours worked (“accrual”). This is the same accrual rate as the state of California has mandated.

USE AND ELIGIBILITY

Eligibility Period:

  • Employer with 26 or more Employees: (including Non-Profit Corporations with or without the minimum wage rate deferral): Employee may use paid sick leave beginning on the 90th day of employment or July 1, 2016, whichever is later.
  • Employer with 25 or fewer Employees: Employees may use paid sick leave beginning on the 90th day of employment or July 1, 2017, whichever is later.
  • How To Request: An employer shall provide paid sick leave upon the oral or written request of an employee for themselves or family members (see below).
  • Amount of Use Can Be Restricted: An employee in Los Angeles can be restricted to use only 48 hours of PSL in a year.
  • Carryover: Unused PSL based on either the front load (lump sum) or accrual method shall carry over to the following year of employment, but can be capped at 72 hours (compared to 48 hours per the State). (An employer may provide for no cap or a higher cap if they wish).

The Los Angeles Ordinance is different than California law on the issue of carryover. California law provides that employer who use the Lump Sum method do not need to provide for carryover into the new year. However, Los Angeles now requires up to 72 hours to carry over to the next year, regardless of the method used – lump sum or accrual.

  • No Pay Out Required: Unused PSL does not need to be paid out upon separation of employment. However, if an employee is rehired within one year, then previously accrued and unused paid sick time must be reinstated.
  • Use for Family Members and Equivalents: PSL can be used by an employee for all of the same reasons stated in the California state paid sick leave law including:
    • the employee’s own health care needs (including treatment of an existing health condition and preventative care), or
    • a covered family member’s health care needs (includes treatment and preventative care), or
    • to seek aid, treatment, or related assistance for domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

“Family Members” includes not only children (biological, adopted, step, loco parentis), siblings, spouses, registered domestic partners, parents (including parents of the spouse or domestic partner), grandparents, or grandchildren, but also “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

No clarification is provided about what it takes to be equivalent to family or how an employer can verify family equivalency.

  • Documentation for Use: Contrary to California law, a Los Angeles City employer may require employees to provide reasonable documentation of an absence from work for which PSL is or will be used.
  • Poster: The Los Angeles Minimum Wage poster has been revised to include information about the Los Angeles Paid Sick Leave law.
  • To download a copy of the Los Angeles Minimum Wage & Sick Leave Poster, click here.

OTHER ISSUES

  • Notice: The ordinance does not provide that an employee must provide any advance notice for using sick time.
  • Anti-Retaliation: The ordinance applies to employees who mistakenly but in good faith allege non-compliance and creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation when adverse action is taken against an employee within 90 days of protected activity.
  • Enforcement: The Office of Wage Standards of the Bureau of Contract Administration has administrative/enforcement responsibilities associated with the Ordinance and this agency “may promulgate guidelines and rules for the implementation” of the ordinance.
  • Existing Policies: The Ordinance provides that the Agency may “allow an Employer’s established paid leave or paid time off policy or one which provides payment for compensated time off to remain in place and comply with this article even though it does not meet all the requirements in Section 187.04, if [the agency] determines that the Employer’s established policy is overall more generous.”

To view an excerpt from the City of Los Angeles website which provides a summary of the law, charts for minimum wage increases and effective dates, a Paid Sick Leave Chart, and a listing of the Administrative Fines that could be assessed, click here.

WHAT DO I DO NOW?

  • Review your current paid sick leave policy and revise as needed to comply with City ordinance.
  • Employers in the following cities should also review their local ordinances for specific minimum wage rates, paid sick leave laws and what posters may be required:
    • Berkeley
    • El Cerrito
    • Emeryville
    • Long Beach (minimum wage only)
    • Los Angeles County (minimum wage only)
    • Mountain View
    • Oakland
    • Palo Alto (minimum wage only)
    • Pasadena (minimum wage only)
    • Richmond (minimum wage only)
    • San Diego
    • San Francisco
    • San Jose (minimum wage only)
    • Santa Clara (minimum wage only)
    • Santa Monica
    • Sunnyvale (minimum wage only)

This Newsletter is intended as a brief summary of employment law. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is not intended to serve as “legal advice,” or to establish an attorney-client relationship. If additional information is needed on any of the topics contained herein, please contact our office. All rights reserved. ©2017