On January 26, 2021, Los Angeles County extended the Los Angeles County COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Ordinance to continue “until two weeks after the expiration of the COVID-19 local emergency as ratified and declared by the Board.” The new ordinance also retroactively applies to businesses starting on January 1, 2021. The new ordinance differs slightly from the prior ordinance that expired on December 31, 2020. Here are five issues Los Angeles employers need to understand about the new Los Angeles County Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Ordinance that was passed on January 26, 2021:
1. Effective time period:
January 1, 2021 to “until two weeks after the expiration of the COVID-19 local emergency as ratified and declared by the Board.”
2. Covered employers and employees:
Covered Employers: Effective January 1, 2021, the new ordinance applies to all employers in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. The prior ordinance, which was in place from March 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020, applied only to employer with 500 or more employees nationally.
Covered Employees: The new ordinance applies to employees who perform work within the unincorporated areas of the County. Food sector workers, as defined in the Governor’s Executive Order N-51-20, were excluded from this from the original ordinance, but as of January 1, 2021, food sector employees are now covered under the new ordinance. Employers may also exclude emergency responders or health care providers (as defined by the Ordinance) from being eligible for paid sick leave.
3. Covered reasons for leave:
Like the original ordinance, the amended ordinance requires that employers must provide paid sick leave to employees at the written request (including, but not limited to, email and text) of an employee if the employee cannot work because:
- A public health official or healthcare provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
- The employee is subject to a federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 (e.g., 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);
- The employee needs to care for a family member who is subject to a federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or
- The employee takes time off work because the employee needs to provide care for a family member whose senior care provider or whose school or childcare provider ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation.
Employers may require a doctor’s note or other documentation confirming that the employee is entitled to sick leave under one of these qualifying reasons. Note that this requirement differs from Los Angeles City’s prohibition on employers being able to require a doctor’s note under the LA City’s Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.
4. Amount of paid sick leave:
Employees who work at least forty hours per week or is classified as a full-time employee is entitled to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave. The amount of pay is calculated on the employee’s highest average two week pay during the period of January 1, 2020 to the effective date of the ordinance, which is January 1, 2021.
Employees who work less than 40 hours per week and is not classified as a full-time employee is entitled to paid sick leave calculated at the employee’s average two week pay over the period of January 1, 2020 to January 1. 2021.
An employee who has already exhausted their supplemental paid sick leave under the prior ordinance or the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) by December 31, 2020 is not eligible for any additional supplemental sick leave.
5. Cap on payments:
The amount of paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate. Paid sick leave under the Ordinance is in addition to any paid sick leave available to employees under Labor Code 246. Employees of joint employers are only entitled to the total aggregate amount of leave specified for employees of one employer.
California employers must continue to monitor all leave obligations under federal, state, and local laws. This area of the law is quickly evolving, and employers must consult a qualified attorney on navigating these issues.