COVID-19 cases continue to surge around Southern California, causing the region to remain under the restrictions imposed by the statewide Regional Stay at Home Order longer than previously predicted. In response, local governments are looking for ways to reward the grocery workers who have been deemed essential since the start of the pandemic.

The City of Long Beach is the first to pass a “Hero Pay” ordinance, which requires certain grocery stores to pay workers “premium pay,” or additional compensation that is separate from an employee’s base pay, bonuses, commissions, and tips. The ordinance went into effect immediately on January 22, 2021, and remains in effect for 120 days from enactment, unless extended by the city council.

Covered Businesses

This ordinance applies to “grocery stores,” which include businesses that devote seventy percent or more of their business to retailing a general range of food products (fresh or packaged). It applies to grocery stores with more than 300 grocery workers nationally and more than 15 employees per grocery store within the City of Long Beach.

Covered Employees

The ordinance only requires premium pay be provided to those grocery workers who perform work within the City of Long Beach. However, the ordinance excludes managers, supervisors, and confidential employees from the premium pay requirement.

Premium Pay

Covered businesses must provide grocery workers with an additional $4.00 per hour for each hour worked.

Additional Requirements

Covered businesses must also provide written notice of rights established by the ordinance. The notice must include the following information:

  1. The right to premium pay guaranteed by the ordinance;
  2. The right to be protected from retaliation for exercising in good faith the rights protected by the ordinance; and,
  3. The right to bring a civil action for a violation of the requirements of the ordinance.

The notice must be posted in a location of the store used by employees for breaks and in an “electronic format that is readily accessible to the grocery workers.”

Covered businesses must also retain records that document compliance with the ordinance for a period of two years.

The City and County of Los Angeles, as well as the City of Santa Monica, are currently considering similar ordinances.