Workers who are ill should stay home and not fear lost wages
LOS ANGELES, CA – Concerned that workers may not be aware of their rights, and local employers may not be aware of City requirements for paid sick leave, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield today reminded the community that the City Council passed a law to protect workers who need time off due to illness.
“From washing your hands thoroughly to covering your mouth when coughing, there are many things we can do to help protect ourselves during a pandemic but the reality is that people are going to get sick and they shouldn’t fear losing their jobs,” said Blumenfield. “I am proud to have helped lead the effort to secure paid sick leave and it is critical for the wellbeing of our city that people use it when needed so we can slow the escalation of transmission.”
In 2017 the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance to require that employers in the city provide paid sick leave to their workers in an effort to ensure a healthy workplace and that employees can stay home when they, their child or a family member are ill. With the potential for the spread of coronavirus, this is a good time to remind workers and employers in the City of Los Angeles about mandatory paid sick leave under the City’s Minimum Wage Ordinance (LAMC sections 187.00 to 187.04).
- All employers with more than 25 employees must provide their workers with up to 48 hours (or six 8-hour days) per year of paid sick leave. At a minimum, workers earn 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, but employers can be more generous and provide all 48 hours at the beginning of a year.
- Workers may take paid sick leave after 90 days of employment.
- Workers can carry over unused leave; employers must allow employees to accrue at least 72 hours of unused leave. However, employers can continue to limit employees to taking no more than 48 hours per year.
- These are minimum required benefits; employers can choose to be more generous.
- Employers must allow workers to take sick leave upon oral or written request. Workers may take sick leave for themselves, or to care for a close family member (child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandchild, grandparent or sibling) or someone whose relationship is the equivalent of a close family relationship.
- Employers may require workers to provide reasonable documentation of an absence for work, but public health officials are urging employers to be flexible about this while coronavirus is a concern, to avoid overwhelming the health care system with requests for doctor’s notes.
Most workers who are not covered by the City’s Minimum Wage Ordinance (including if their employer has 25 or fewer employees) are entitled to paid sick leave under the State of California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (Labor Code sections 245-249). The State law is not as generous as the City ordinance, setting a floor of 24 hours (or 3 days) of paid sick leave per year, and allowing employers to limit accrued unused sick leave to 24 hours.
This is a summary and overview of the applicable law; different rules apply to certain occupations and people who work both in Los Angeles and another city. More detailed information about the City’s Minimum Wage Ordinance is available here (https://wagesla.lacity.org/) and details about the California paid sick leave requirement is available here (https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Paid_Sick_Leave.htm).