On January 19, 2021, Oakland, California's city council enacted an emergency ordinance extending and modifying its existing emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) ordinance. The extension is effective retroactively from December 31, 2020 - the law's original sunset date - through the end of the city's COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, unless the city council further extends the law. As an emergency ordinance, the amendment takes effect immediately.
The EPSL ordinance remains mostly unchanged. Significantly, the extension does not require employers to provide a new leave bank. Rather, employees may take any unused portion of the up to 80 hours of EPSL they received in 2020.
Originally, the ordinance required employers to provide EPSL to certain employees and provided a formula for the amount of EPSL that must be provided depending on whether an employee either: 1) works at last 40 hours per week or is classified by their employer as full-time; or 2) works fewer than 40 hours per week. The extended ordinance expressly adds a third calculation for employees who performed labor or services for remuneration for fewer than 14 days over the period of January 1 through January 21, 2021: an amount equal to the number of hours the employee worked in Oakland over the 14 days.
Additionally, the amendments clarify that employers can offset their Oakland EPSL obligation by the number of EPSL hours they provided an employee under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and/or California's two statewide supplemental paid sick leave laws. The FFCRA applied to employers with 499 or fewer employees, whereas both California laws applied to employers with 500 or more U.S. employees, with one statute covering certain food sector workers and another more generally covering workers; both laws expired at the end of 2020. Oakland's ordinance generally applies to employers with 50 or more employees, though business-size-related exceptions exist for franchisees and certain janitorial employers.
Given the law takes effect immediately, and retroactively, employers subject to the revived Oakland ordinance should move quickly. For employees provided EPSL during 2020, employers should determine how much, if any, of that leave remains available for use in 2021. Additionally, covered employers will need to begin examining 2021 leave requests for covered absences by employees whose EPSL banks were not exhausted in 2020, and begin calculating and providing leave to 2021 new hires.
Finally, a quick reminder about the state of affairs for local California EPSL ordinances in 2021. Laws continue to exist - or were revived for 2021 in 2021 (*) - in Long Beach, Los Angeles (City), Oakland*, Sacramento (City), Sacramento (County), San Francisco, San Jose*, and San Mateo County. Upcoming votes on extending and/or expanding expired ordinances are currently scheduled to occur in Santa Rosa (January 19) and Sonoma County (January 26), with Los Angeles County expected to vote on or before January 26. To date, the California Legislature has not introduced a proposal to reinstate the statewide emergency paid sick leave laws, nor has the governor acted through an executive order to do the same.
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