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Red Sky at Morning: Employers Take Warning; Today’s Forecast: Changing State and Local Sick Leave Mandates in California
Wednesday, October 7, 2020

With California employers now grappling with remote workforces, all the time and effort spent ensuring compliance with sick leave legislation – particularly at the local level – should be re-visited. For example, let’s say an employer has physical office locations in Ventura County and Orange County, and therefore has been subject to and complied with only the state sick leave law, as there are no local ordinances in those areas. However, with that employer’s office locations closed, all of the approximately 300 employees have been working remotely since March. The employer reviews the home locations of its employees and learns that they live not only in Ventura and Orange Counties, but also in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and even San Diego. The latter three cities each have their own local sick leave ordinance that applies to most employees who work within the geographic boundaries of the city, requiring the employer to consider whether there are new or additional sick leave requirements that apply to some of its employees.

In light of the patchwork of sick leave legislation at both the state and local level, it should also come as no surprise to employers that the COVID-19 supplemental sick leave mandates have gone into effect in similar fashion.

For California employers trying to stay on top of compliance with the evolving and increasing sick leave mandates, this article identifies the laws and ordinances that are on the books as of today and provides helpful links (where available).

‘Regular’ Sick Leave Laws and Ordinances

  1. State of California (AB 1522) – Guidance from the Labor Commissioner: Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522) and California Paid Sick Leave: Frequently Asked Questions.

  2. City of Berkeley – Guidance from the City’s Housing and Community Services Department: Paid Sick Leave.

  3. City of Emeryville – Guidance from the City’s Community Development Department: Minimum Wage Ordinance.

  4. City of Los Angeles – Guidance from the City’s Office of Wage Standards: COVID-19 Related Policies and Documents.

  5. City of Oakland – Guidance from the City’s Contract & Compliance Unit: Oakland’s Minimum Wage, Paid Leave & Service Charge Law and Hotel Workers Protection & Employment Standards.

  6. City of San Diego – Guidance from the City Treasurer’s Minimum Wage Program: Minimum Wage Program.

  7. City and County of San Francisco – Guidance from the City’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement: Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.

  8. City of Santa Monica – Guidance from the City’s website: Minimum Wage Ordinance.

COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave Laws and Ordinances

  1. State of California (AB 1867) – The text of the new law (which supersedes the executive order applicable to food sector workers): Assembly Bill No. 1867, FAQs from the Labor Commissioner: FAQs on Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for California Workers at Companies with 500 or More Employees Nationwide and for Health Care Providers and First Responders Excluded from the Federal COVID-19 Related Paid Sick Leave, and you can also check out GT’s Fast Facts regarding this law: Fast Facts – California’s Statewide COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave Law.

  2. City of Long Beach – the text of the ordinance is available here.

  3. City of Los Angeles – the text of the Emergency Oder is available here.

  4. Los Angeles County (unincorporated areas) – the text of the ordinance is available here.

  5. City of Oakland – the text of the ordinance: Emergency Paid Sick Leave For Oakland Employees.

  6. City of Sacramento – the text of the ordinance is available here.

  7. City and County of San Francisco (City) – guidance from the City’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement: Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (see “Public Health Emergency Leave” section).

  8. City of San Jose – the text of the ordinance is available here.

  9. San Mateo County – the text of the ordinance: Supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons.

  10. City of Santa Rosa – the text of the ordinance is available here.

  11. Sonoma County – the text of Ordinance 6320 is available here.

San Diego is not included on this list because at the time the San Diego City Council considered its own supplemental sick leave ordinance, there was a simultaneous application to prevent its adoption if a related law, Assembly Bill 1867, went into effect.1 We confirmed with the City Attorney’s office that in light of the passage of AB 1867, the City ordinance will not be brought back for a second reading, and therefore will not go into effect. AB 1867, summarized in “Fast Facts – California’s Statewide COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave Law,” provides supplemental sick leave to employees whose employers are not covered under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In other words, if the state of California had failed to fill the FFCRA gap, San Diego would have stepped in and done so. The passage of AB 1867, though, avoided this.

As to whether there’s more to come with supplemental COVID-related sick leave entitlements, California’s new law does not preempt existing or future local ordinances. As such, it remains to be seen whether or how other localities will respond. If history is any guide, we know that passage of AB 1522 in July 2015 certainly did not stop localities from implementing local sick leave ordinances with richer leave entitlements, despite the fact that AB 1522 provided most employees in California (with some exceptions) with at least 3 days (or 24 hours) of paid sick leave every year. With the passage of the state law, the gap in coverage for employees of large employers that had previously been filled by the localities above has now been filled. It’s still possible that localities may improve upon the state leave entitlement in some way – e.g., provide more than 80 hours, allow employees to use paid leave for more reasons than the state law provides, or require payment of supplemental sick leave at a higher rate of pay.

1 See Special City Council Meeting Results Summary for September 8, 2020 Council Meeting,

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