Los Angeles enacts Ordinance requiring 48 hours of paid sick leave

The City of Los Angeles recently enacted an Ordinance that increases employees’ mandatory sick leave entitlements, doubling the state requirements of 24 hours paid sick leave to 48 regardless of the size of business. On June 2, 2016, Mayor Eric Garcetti approved the Los Angeles Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO) to take effect on July 1, 2016. Enacted as a matter of urgency, the increase in workers’ entitlements, including a higher minimum wage, was called into effect less than 30 days after the legislation was signed.

According to the legislation, businesses with fewer than 26 employees are given a year’s deferral to implement the new entitlements to their policies and will be required to provide paid sick leave to their employees beginning July 1, 2017. The Ordinance applies to all employees working within the City of Los Angeles for the same employer for 30 days out of the year, regardless of the location of the employer. There are no exceptions for small businesses or non-profits.

The MWO also orders an increase in minimum wage to $10.50 for businesses of 26 employees or more, $10.00 for those with fewer than 26 employees, as well as a series of increases in subsequent years.

The MWO includes several key specifications that are unique to the City of Los Angeles, differing from state regulations on minimum wage and paid sick leave. Some key differences include the following:

  • Unlike state law, which requires 24 hours (three days) of mandatory paid sick leave, Los Angeles employees receive double that amount at 48 hours (six days) or one hour per every 30 hours worked.
  • Unlike California state law, employers covered by collective bargaining agreements do not receive waivers.
  • The law applies to employees who spend at least 30 days per year working in the city of Los Angeles. This also means that employees who work at least two days per week in Los Angeles qualify for the 48 hours paid sick leave.
  • Unlike state law, there is no “use it or lose it” regulations applied to front loaded policies. Accrued or unused sick days are carried over year to year in Los Angeles.
  • In Los Angeles, paid sick leave is not required to be used in a minimum of two hour increments as is required by state law. In other words, if an employee takes one hour of sick leave, they can only be docked one hour, not two, from their total sick leave hours.
  • State law allows paid sick leave to be used for the employees themselves, as well as for extended family members or domestic abuse and stalking incidents. However, the Los Angeles Ordinance extends the definition of “family” to include “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

To learn more about the specifications of the MWO, please visit http://wagesla.lacity.org/ for detailed information.

One challenge brought about by this Ordinance is for employers to determine which employees actually work within Los Angeles for 30 days or more. For businesses employing consultants, salespeople, advisors or other workers who may not work within Los Angeles city limits on a consistent basis, the safest protocol may be to offer the 48 hours of paid sick leave to employees who could potentially work within Los Angeles 30 days out of the year.

The new Ordinance requires many businesses to change their policies should their existing policies not meet Los Angeles’ new minimum wage standards. Such businesses must take care to ensure that their new policies abide by the new Ordinance before finalizing any changes.

An Office of Wage Standards was created within The Bureau of Contract Administration in order to enforce wage theft violations, including violations of paid sick leave regulations. Employers that violate the new provisions may be fined $50 per day per violation, and administrative fees of up to $500 per day per violation. Subsequent violations may incur increased fines, and workers are able to take legal action to seek unpaid wages and sick leave benefits.

If you believe that your employer is not providing you with the paid sick leave or minimum wage required by the Los Angeles Minimum Wage Ordinance, you should contact an experienced employment attorney at Strong Advocates. We can assist you in determining your rights and legal options. We are committed to helping you get the justice you deserve.