New Law Effective July 1, 2016 Increases Annual Paid Sick Days For Many Employees Working Within the City of LA to 48 Hours Per Year

As we blogged about here, on July 1, 2015, most California employers became legally obligated to provide their employees up to 3 days or 24 hours (whichever is greater) of paid sick leave per year pursuant to the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act.  The City of Los Angeles has now enacted its own ordinance increasing the amount of paid sick leave that must be made available to many employees who work in the geographic boundaries of the City of LA to 48 hours per year.  Below are more details about the law, which is available here.

Applicability.  Businesses with 26 or more employees who perform at least two hours of work in a particular week within the geographic boundaries of the City of LA must comply with the law as of July 1, 2016.  Businesses with 25 or fewer employees working at least two hours a week within the City of LA are obligated to comply with the law as of July 1, 2017.  A helpful tool to assess whether a particular address is located within the City of LA is the City of LA’s Office of Finance website, available here, where you can type in an address under the prompt at the bottom of the page stating, “Determine if an address is within the City of Los Angeles.”

Eligibility Requirements.  The Office of Wage Standards has taken the position that the law applies to only non-exempt workers.  Moreover, similar to California’s paid sick leave law, employees are only eligible for paid sick leave if they work for the same employer in the City of LA for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment.  Employers may prohibit employees from using paid sick leave until the 90th day of employment.

Accrual and Use.  Employers must provide sick leave either (1) by providing the entire 48 hours to an employee at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period (“frontloading method”); or (2) by allowing the employee to accrue one hour of sick leave per every 30 hours worked (“accrual method”).  Employees must be allowed to take up to 48 hours of paid sick leave each year, and accrued, unused paid sick leave must carry over to the following year of employment, up to a cap of no less than 72 hours.  Employers may institute a higher cap or no cap at all.  The law also contains a provision stating that “if an employer has a paid leave or paid time off policy or provides payment for compensated time off that is equal to or greater than 48 hours, no additional time is required.”

Purposes for Which Sick Leave Can Be Taken.  Employers must provide paid sick leave upon the employee’s oral or written request for any of the following purposes:

  1. The diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for, an employee or an employee’s family member.
  2. To enable an employee who is a victim, or whose child is a victim, of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to take time off of work to obtain medical care, including psychological counseling, to seek a restraining order, or for other related reasons.

“Family member” includes any of the following in relation to the employee:  A child (including biological, adopted, foster, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis) regardless of age or dependency status; a parent (including biological, adoptive, foster, stepparent, or legal guardian of the employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child); a spouse; a registered domestic partner; a grandparent; a grandchild; a sibling; or any other individual “related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

Documentation. The law allows employers to require employees to provide reasonable documentation of an absence from work for which paid sick leave is or will be used.  However, because the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act has been interpreted to prevent employers from seeking documentation justifying paid sick leave, employers should be certain to comply with state law when requiring such documentation.

In other respects, provisions of the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act govern.

In addition, employers with 26 or more employees in the City of Los Angeles need to ensure that they are in compliance with both this sick leave law and the new (increased) minimum wage of $10.50 per hour that must be paid by such employers as of July 1, 2016.  If you would like assistance with this or with any other employment-related matters, please feel free to contact Polina Bernstein or Diana Friedland at (818) 817-7570.

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The above summary has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.  

Bernstein & Friedland, P.C. is a boutique employment law firm in Los Angeles specializing in wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and unpaid wage and overtime matters.  Please visit our website at www.laemploymentcounsel.com to learn more about us.  

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