Employers in the City of Los Angeles have one week to implement policies that comply with the new paid sick leave ordinance, which goes into effect on July 1, 2016, and doubles the current state law requirements. The ordinance (No. 184320) applies to all businesses, regardless of size, that operate in the City of Los Angeles. Approved by Mayor Eric Garcetti on June 1 with an urgency clause for quick implementation, here is what you need to know (and do) right now:

  • Employees who work in the city of Los Angeles, 30 days or more per calendar year, are entitled to 48 hours of paid sick leave benefits per year.
  • Employers may frontload the 48 hours of paid sick leave beginning July 1, 2016, and every calendar year or employment anniversary year thereafter. Alternatively, employers can use an accrual method of no less than one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, including overtime hours.
  • Under the accrual method, employers may cap usage at 48 hours per year.
  • Under the accrual method, employers must allow a minimum of 72 hours of accrued but unused time to carry over to the following year.
  • An employer can require an employee to wait until the employee has been employed 90 days before utilizing paid sick leave, but may want to allow usage in order to exhaust it more expeditiously.
  • Employees may request paid sick leave verbally, however, employers may require “reasonable” documentation to substantiate use of paid sick leave. Because state law prohibits employers from requiring documentation, employers should tread cautiously here, perhaps waiting until an employee has exhausted 24 hours of paid sick leave before requesting documentation.
  • Employers are not required to pay out any unused sick leave upon termination, but must reinstate accrued sick leave if an employee resumes employment within one year.
  • Employees may take paid sick leave not only for blood-related family members, but also to care for someone whose association is the “equivalent of a family relationship.”
  • Any adverse action taken against an employee within 90 days of exercising his or her rights under the ordinance will be presumptively retaliatory.
  • Employers must post notice of the new paid sick law in every language that is spoken by 5 percent or more of the workforce.

If you have an existing paid time off policy in place that is more generous than the city requirements, no changes need to be made. Businesses that adopted separate sick and vacation policies after the state paid sick law passed may want to reconsider a combined paid time off policy which could limit time off, but would need to be paid out upon termination. If you currently frontload 24 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year, then you will need to adjust that to 48 hours as of July 1. If you are unsure whether your existing policy complies, whether your business is within the boundaries of the City of Los Angeles or would like to discuss options for new policies, we are happy to review it this week to ensure compliance by the July 1 deadline.