Covered Employees and Employers

The City of Los Angeles (the “City” or “Los Angeles”) recently enacted its own paid sick leave ordinance (the “Ordinance”).

The Ordinance becomes effective on July 1, 2016 and has no exemption for collective bargaining agreements. It covers all non-exempt employees who (1) qualify for minimum wage under California law; (2) work at least two hours in a particular week within the City’s boundaries; and (3) remain with the same employer for at least 30 days in the first year of employment.

Furthermore, the Ordinance governs all employers regardless of size and consistent with Labor Code section 558 holds executives and owners individually accountable. Indeed, it defines the term “Employer” to include any organization, “corporate officer[,] or executive, who directly or indirectly...employs or exercises control over...wages, hours, or working conditions.”

Accrual and Lump Sum Methods

Under the new decree, eligible employees are entitled to 48 hours of paid sick leave per year. Current employees must either receive the full amount or begin accrual by July 1, 2016. Anyone hired thereafter must receive the full amount or begin accrual on the first day of employment. Employers, however, can prevent the use of paid sick leave until July 1, 2016 or the 90th day of employment, whichever is later.

Notably, employers that use the accrual method must offer one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked (including overtime) within the City. They may then – at their discretion – implement an accrual cap of 72 hours or more. Otherwise, any accrued and unused paid sick leave will carry over from year to year. It, nevertheless, does not need to be paid out upon separation.

Permissible Uses

Eligible employees may use sick leave benefits for any purpose permitted under the Healthy Workplaces, Health Families Act—namely, illness, injury, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Moreover, the Ordinance affords time off to care for a family member, which carries a broader definition than under state law. It encompasses an employee’s child, spouse, domestic partner, child of a domestic partner, and parent (including a biological parent, foster parent, stepparent, legal guardian, or parent-in-law). It also encompasses an employee’s grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings. Furthermore, the Ordinance – unlike state law – encompasses “any individual related by blood or affinity...[that is the] equivalent of a family relationship.”

Conflicting Provisions

Typically, employers must comply with both local and state paid sick leave laws. To the extent that local and state laws conflict, the more generous provision controls. In light of the inherent complexity, we strongly recommend that Los Angeles employers consult with legal counsel and update all applicable policies.