EMPLOYMENT LAW COVID-19 UPDATE
NEW LOS ANGELES COUNTY VACCINE PAID LEAVE
May 24, 2021
On May 18, 2021 Los Angeles County passed yet another paid leave ordinance (Employee Paid Leave for Expanded Vaccine Access” Ordinance No. 2021-0024U) requiring, in most instances, all private employers to provide up to four hours of paid time off to allow employees paid time to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination (COVID-19 Vaccine Paid Leave).
The stated purpose of this paid time off is to ensure that “all workers have access to additional paid leave benefits to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine” and so that employees do not have to choose between obtaining the vaccine and a paycheck.
This new ordinance takes effect on May 18, 2021 and of significance, it is a retroactive ordinance, so the actual effective date is January 1, 2021. The Ordinance remains in effect until August 31, 2021.
1. Who is A Covered Employer:
All employers with employees (without regard to the number of employees) working in the unincorporated areas of the County of Los Angeles.
2. Who is a Covered Employee
Any employee working in an unincorporated area of the County of Los Angeles.
3. What Is Included in the Paid Leave
Eligible employees are entitled to up to four hours of paid time for each vaccine injection, for the time spent:
- traveling to and from appointments to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine injection, and
- recovering from symptoms related to receiving the vaccine that prevent them from working or teleworking.
The COVID-19 vaccine paid leave is in addition to any job-protected paid leave employees receive under California’s paid sick leave (PSL) law, and California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL – paid leave provided to employees of employers with 26 or more employees) however, employees must first exhaust all available California supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL).
4. What Rate of Pay is Paid
Full Time employees (those considered full time by the employer or workers scheduled to work on average 40 hours per week in the 2 weeks preceding the date of the vaccine) are to be paid their normal rate of pay which is calculated on the highest average two-week pay during January 1, 2021 to May 18, 2021.
Part-time employees are entitled to the prorated amount of four hours per injection based on their normally scheduled work hours over the two-week period before the injection. For example, an employee who worked 20 hours per week during the two-week period before the injection would be entitled to two hours of COVID-19 Vaccine Paid Leave per injection.
5. Is Proof of the Vaccine Required
Employers may require employees to provide written verification of the COVID-19 vaccine to be eligible for the paid leave.
6. Poster Requirements
Employers will be required to display a written notice of the COVID-19 Vaccine Paid Leave which notice will be created and published by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (“DCBA”). The poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place as are all other required posters. The notice must also be made available to employees electronically.
7. Record Keeping
Employers must keep payroll records to show compliance with this ordinance for four years. This includes the employee’s name, address, occupation, dates of employment, rate of pay, and the amount paid. Failure to keep, or provide LACDCBA access to, such records create a presumption that the employer did not comply with the ordinance.
As with all other legally required paid leave time, employers cannot refuse to employ, terminate, reduce in compensation, or take adverse action against individuals who in good faith exercise rights provided under the ordinance.
Within three year of an alleged violation, individuals who believe an employer violated the law can either file a complaint with LACDCBA, which will investigate and enforce the ordinance, or a lawsuit in state court; if they prevail, these individuals can receive reinstatement, interest on damages, back pay, penalties and fines – tripled for unlawful retaliation – and other appropriate legal or equitable relief, along with reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
As the guidance issued by the state, local and federal agencies is regularly changing, as is the medical information known about COVID-19, this memo is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for informational purposes and should not be construed or interpreted as providing legal advice related to any specific case or cases.