Los Angeles mandates 48 hours paid sick leave

Double the California state minimum

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On June 2, 2016, a new paid sick leave ordinance was just signed into law for the City of Los Angeles. This ordinance goes into effect July 1, 2016, and like the City’s new minimum wage ordinance, it covers all employees who perform at least two hours of work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Los Angeles within a particular week.

How does this ordinance differ from California’s paid sick leave law?

Many of the provisions of this new law mirror the existing California Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014 paid sick leave law; however, there are some significant differences:

  • Accrual and use: Under California law, employers must allow employees to use at least 24 hours of paid sick leave per year. Thenewly enacted Los Angeles Ordinance doubles this requirement to 48 hours per year. Also, existing California law allows employers to cap paid sick leave accrual at 48 hours per year; but the Los Angeles Ordinance raises the minimum accrual to at least 72 hours per year. Employers may choose whether to provide the full annual sick leave allotment at the beginning of the year (in a lump sum), or have the sick leave time accrue at the rate of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. It is important for employers to remember that the accrual is unlimited unless the employer establishes a maximum accrual cap of no less than 72 hours per year. Unlike the California law, this Ordinance only refers to sick leave time in increments of hours, not days.
  • Purpose of use: The Los Angeles Ordinance expands the purpose for which employees may use the sick leave to allow the employee to use paid sick leave to care for him/herself, a family member, or anyone related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.
  • Documentation for use: The Los Angeles Ordinance does allow the employer to require reasonable documentation from an employee utilizing paid sick leave, however, employers who do so must still keep in mind the potential limitations of the California sick leave law, which does not expressly authorize employers to require such documentation.
  • PTO policies: The new Ordinance states that if an employer has a paid time off policy that is equal to, or no less than 48 hours per year, and which can be used for the same purpose as the sick leave law, no additional paid sick leave time is required under the Ordinance.

What should affected employers do?

Employers covered by the new Los Angeles Ordinance should immediately review, and if necessary revise, their existing paid sick leave policies to comply with the new requirements and standards, including, establishing a new accrual cap of no less than 72 hours per year (for those using a capped accrual policy).

The new policy should be distributed to employees and posted. Employers who have been providing the full allotment of sick leave at the beginning of the year (e.g., using the “lump sum/front load” method) may want to reassess whether to stay on this method, which would now require providing the full 48 hours at the beginning of the year (however, many employers have opted for the front load method to avoid the significant administrative burdens of the accrual method since available sick time must be reflected on employee paystubs under California law). Both the California and Los Angeles laws contain anti-retaliation provisions, so employers should remain vigilant in monitoring sick leave requests and any subsequent adverse employment actions. Employers who are revising these or any other policies should do so with the assistance of qualified employment counsel.