United States: Los Angeles Expected to Join Other Cities with Paid Sick Leave Ordinances

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13−1 to pass a motion directing the City Attorney's Office to move forward with a proposed ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who work for them in the City of Los Angeles. If the ordinance is approved, Los Angeles will join Oakland, San Francisco, Emeryville and Santa Monica, which have already enacted paid sick leave ordinances. The Los Angeles ordinance will require employers to provide twice as much paid sick leave than is currently required under California state law.

DETAILS OF THE LOS ANGELES ORDINANCE

Under the proposed ordinance, an employee will receive up to 48 hours (6 days) of paid sick leave per calendar year. Paid leave will accrue at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Alternatively, an employer can elect to "front load" leave, making the full amount of leave available to the employee at the beginning of the year.

An employee will be able to carry over 72 hours into the following year, negating the 48-hour cap under the accrual method in current California law. The amount of leave can be capped at 72 hours, or an employer can opt to have a higher cap or no cap at all. If an employer currently has policies allowing for paid leave or paid time off, or provides compensated time off that grants at least 48 hours of paid leave, then it need not provide additional paid time off.

Any employee who works in Los Angeles for the same employer for 30 days or more within a year is eligible for paid sick leave. Paid sick leave will begin accruing on the employee's first day of employment or July 1, 2016, whichever is later. Employees hired after the effective date of the ordinance will be allowed to use accrued paid sick leave on the 90th day of employment. Those employees currently employed on the effective date of the ordinance can begin using leave as soon as it accrues.

The ordinance will be modeled after California's Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act:

  • Leave may be used for the illness of the employee or a family member, or for any person related by blood or who has a close relationship equivalent to that of a family relationship.
  • Upon the termination of the employee's employment, the employer is not required to compensate the employee for accrued or unused sick leave.
  • Retaliation or discrimination against an employee who requests or uses paid sick time off is strictly prohibited.

The Los Angeles ordinance will be enforced by the Office of Wage Standard.

SUMMARY

Backers of the Los Angeles ordinance anticipate it will pass easily. The ordinance is now being drafted by the City Attorney's Office. If it is approved, the ordinance will go into effect on July 1, 2016, for employers with more than 25 employees, and July 1, 2017, for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

Employers with employees who work in Los Angeles and the other California cities that have enacted paid sick leave ordinances should act now to ensure they are in compliance. They should review and revise all existing paid sick leave or PTO policies and procedures as appropriate. Alternatively, they can establish a separate paid sick leave policy that complies with state law and local ordinances. In addition, employers need to update all internal systems so that they are harmonious with paid sick leave accrual of up to 72 hours.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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