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In June, the City of Los Angeles enacted an ordinance (O184320) amending the city’s Minimum Wage Ordinance to include paid sick leave provisions. These paid sick leave provisions are phased in over two years. Employers with 26 or more employees must begin providing paid sick leave benefits on July 1, 2016, and employers with 25 or fewer employees must begin providing paid sick leave benefits on July 1, 2017.

Employee Eligibility

To be eligible for paid sick leave, an employee must have worked in the city of Los Angeles for the same employer for 30 days or more within a year from the commencement of employment.

Entitlement

Employees are entitled 48 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers may provide paid sick leave by:

  • Providing all 48 hours of leave at the beginning of each year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period (frontloading); or
  • Using the accrual method, whereby the employee accrues one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked within the geographic boundaries of the city. If the accrual method is used, the employee’s hours worked in the city must be tracked.

Accrued unused paid sick leave will carry over to the following year; however, employers may cap accrual at 72 hours (employers may also set a higher cap or no cap at all).

Employers are not required to compensate employees for unused accrued paid sick leave at separation from employment. If an employee is rehired within a year of separation of employment, previously accrued and unused paid sick leave must be reinstated.

If an employer already provides paid time off or compensated time off that is equal to 48 hours or more, the employer is not required to provide paid sick leave.

Usage

Regardless of the method an employer chooses to provide paid sick leave, an employee may use paid sick leave beginning on the 90th day of employment or July 1, 2016, whichever is later. Employers may set a reasonable minimum increment of no more than two hours for the use of paid sick leave.

An employer must provide paid sick leave upon the verbal or written request of an employee who seeks leave for himself, herself, or a family member (as defined by California Labor Code §§ 246.5(a) and 245.5(c)), or for any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Employers may require documentation to substantiate the need for leave only after an employee has used more than three consecutive days of sick leave. Employers may not require employees to provide a description or explanation of the illness or condition necessitating the employee’s leave. Reasonable documentation is also dependent on the situation; the employer’s policy should never be so difficult that it deters an employee from taking legitimate paid sick leave.

What to Do Now

Employers with employees covered by the paid sick leave provisions of the Los Angeles Minimum Wage Ordinance should:

  • Train managers and supervisors regarding the paid sick leave requirements.
  • Review and, if necessary, update any leave policies that may be affected by the paid sick leave requirements. If your current leave policy is more generous than that required under the ordinance, no action need be taken.
  • Verify that protocols are in place to accurately record employee time worked within the geographical boundaries of the city.
  • Post the required notices. The City of Los Angeles Office of Wage Standards provides compliance posters that must be posted in common employee areas.

See City of Los Angeles Paid Sick Leave for a short summary and answers to our most frequently asked questions about the paid sick leave regulations.