On June 2, 2016, the City of Los Angeles approved its own sick leave entitlement ordinance, which provides employees working in the City the ability to accrue and use up to 48 hours of sick leave. Importantly, this is twice the amount provided by California state law. This new entitlement becomes effective on July 1, 2016.
Some highlights from the new Paid Sick Leave ordinance are as follows:
– This ordinance applies identically and equally to all employers regardless of their size; small employers are not subject to lower caps. However, certain non-profit entities can apply for an exemption, and if the paid sick leave requirements in a collective bargaining agreement meet the minimum standards provided in this ordinance, an exemption could be allowed.
– Like the corresponding California state law, under this ordinance, employers may use either lump sum or accrual methods.
– Employees will accrue no less than one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked (including overtime hours).
– There does not need to be an accrual cap, although employers may implement a cap of 72 hours.
– Any unused sick time is then carried over to subsequent years.
– Sick leave must be paid at no less than the minimum wage rates set forth in the City’s Minimum Wage Ordinance (including $10.50 an hour for employers of 26 or more employees).
– Unlike state law, under this ordinance, if an adverse action is taken within 90 days (30 days under state law) after an employee’s use of sick leave, such action is presumed to be retaliatory.
– The employer can request “reasonable documentation of an absence from work for which paid sick leave is being used”; however, the term “reasonable documentation” is not defined.
– In defining the person(s) for whom sick leave can be used, the ordinance states, “. . . for any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
If an employer fails to comply, this ordinance imposes fines and civil penalties. The fine is calculated based upon each employee and each day the employer is not in compliance. Civil penalties are also calculated on a per-violation penalty of $120 for each employee per day.
If you are an employee within the City of Los Angeles and either find or suspect that you are not getting the benefits you are rightfully entitled to, then you should seek immediate legal assistance. You should not worry about the cost of an attorney. Many private firms, including Rushovich Mehtani LLP, take cases on a “contingency” basis – meaning that they only get paid if they recover money for you – and you never have to pay out of pocket. In addition, public interest law organizations such as Public Counsel or Bet Tzedek.