On January 26, 2021, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance extending Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19 (“SPSL”), which had expired on December 31, 2020. The amended ordinance is effective immediately and retroactive to January 1, 2021, expiring two weeks following the end of the COVID-19 local emergency. While largely identical to the previous iteration of SPSL, the new ordinance contains some key differences which are discussed below.
Covered Employers. Unlike the previous ordinance, the new SPSL applies to all private employers located in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. The previous ordinance only applied to employers with 500 or more employees nationwide.
Eligible Employees. All employees who perform any work within the geographic boundaries of Los Angeles County for a covered employer are eligible for SPSL. Previously, food sector workers were not eligible because they were covered under California’s now expired Food Sector Worker Supplemental Paid Sick Leave. Health Care Providers and Emergency Responders remain ineligible for SPSL.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave. Unchanged from the previous ordinance, employers must provide SPSL upon the written request (email or text is sufficient) of an eligible employee if the employee cannot work, or telework, because of any of the following:
- A public health official or healthcare provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- The employee needs to care for a family member who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or
- The employee takes time off work because the employee needs to provide care for a family member whose senior care provider or whose school or child care provider ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation.
Employers may require supporting documentation from an employee requesting SPSL.
Amount of Paid Sick Leave. Employees who either work forty hours per week (or are classified as full-time) are eligible for no more than eighty (80) hours of paid sick leave calculated based on their highest average two week pay after January 1, 2021.
- Employees who work less than forty hours per week and are not classified as full-time are eligible for paid sick leave no greater than their average two week pay after January 1, 2021.
Paid sick leave under the SPSL is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.
Relationship with Other Leave Entitlements. When figuring out how much an employee is to be paid, if at all, don’t forget that there may be another paid leave law that might apply.
FFCRA Leave. The new ordinance provides that any SPSL taken by an employee must be reduced by any paid leave taken under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). Moreover, employees who exhausted either their SPSL or FFCRA leave before December 31, 2020 are not eligible for any additional SPSL under the new ordinance.
- Unchanged from the previous ordinance, SPSL is in addition to any other paid sick leave an employer already provides and employers cannot require employees to use any other paid or unpaid leave before using SPSL or in lieu of.
Cal/OSHA Exclusion Pay. Employers’ exclusion pay obligations under the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards remain. Thus, employees who qualify for exclusion pay under the Emergency Temporary Standards may be entitled to even more COVID-19 related paid leave than what is provided for in the ordinance.
Example: An employer must provide exclusion pay to an employee who is absent from work because the employee contracted COVID-19 at work or was exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. This pay rule applies even if the employee already exhausted 80 hours of SPSL. Further, the Emergency Temporary Standards require that the employee be paid their current earnings (with no cap), whereas SPSL has a dollar cap and 80 hour limit.
We will continue to monitor major COVID-19 related developments that impact the workplace. If you have any questions about the matters discussed in this issue of Compliance Matters, please call your firm contact at 818-508-3700 or visit us online at www.brgslaw.com
Richard S. Rosenberg
Katherine A. Hren
Charles H.W. Foster
Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt, LLP