Recently the state of California and the City of Los Angeles passed laws providing extra paid sick leave during COVID-19. We know it’s getting complicated, so here are a few FAQs on your right to paid sick leave if you work in L.A.
How much paid sick leave must an employer provide in L.A.?
There are three different types of paid sick leave you should know about: L.A. permanent paid sick leave, L.A. COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, and California COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. Your employer must provide you with 48 hours (6 days) of permanent paid sick leave every year. In addition to these 48 hours, your employers may be required to provide an additional 80 hours (10 days) of sick leave to address COVID-19 sickness under state and local law.
Do all workers in L.A. have paid sick leave?
For L.A. permanent paid sick leave (48 hours), you are eligible if:
- You work in the City of Los Angeles
- You’ve worked with your employer for at least 90 days
For L.A. COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (80 hours), you are eligible if:
- You work in the City of Los Angeles
- You’ve worked with your employer for at least 60 days
- Your employer has more than 500 employees in L.A. or more than 2,000 employees nationally
For California COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (80 hours), you are eligible if:
- You work in California
- You’ve worked with your employer for at least 30 days
- Your employer has more than 25 employees
Are there any businesses that don’t have to provide their workers with paid sick leave?
No. All businesses must provide their workers with at least permanent paid sick leave (48 hours).
Summary: For most workers in Los Angeles, you will get 48 hours (permanent) + 80 hours (COVID-19 supplemental) for a total of 128 hours (16 days) of paid sick leave.
For what purpose can I take paid sick leave?
You can use your permanent paid sick leave (48 hours) if:
- You’re sick
- You need to care for a sick family member
- You have a doctor’s appointment
- You need to take your family member to a doctor’s appointment
- You need to take preventative care
- You’re caring for a family member who needs to take preventative care
You can use your COVID-19 supplemental sick leave (80 hours) if:
- You’re sick with COVID-19
- You are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis
- You are 65+ years old
- You have a health condition that makes you more vulnerable to COVID-19, such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or a compromised immune system
- Your healthcare provider tells you to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19
- You are subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19
- You need to care for a family member who has to stay home due to COVID-19
- You need to care for a child whose school has closed or normal care is unavailable
- You have a COVID-19 vaccination appointment
- You are experiencing symptoms from a COVID-19 vaccine
I need to take time off to care for a family member. Who counts as “family member”?
A family member is any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with you is the equivalent of a family relationship. This means that if YOU relate to them like family, then they’re family, and you can take paid sick leave to care for them.
Do undocumented workers receive paid sick leave?
Yes. Immigration status is not a barrier to receiving paid sick leave.
Will I still get paid when I take a paid sick day?
Yes. The amount depends on the purpose of your leave. Generally, you will receive 100% of your salary, with a maximum of $511/day. Your employer will pay you directly. You do not need to apply for payment with a government agency.
If you are a non-exempt employee (you qualify for overtime pay), you will be paid whichever of these amounts is the highest:
- Your regular pay rate for the time you are taking COVID-19 supplemental paid leave
- Your average pay rate over the past 90 days
- Los Angeles minimum wage.
If I work part-time, will I still receive paid sick leave?
For permanent paid sick leave (48 hours), your employer may be required to provide paid sick leave in an amount equaling your average two-week pay. This is based on your pay over the last 60 days. For example, if you make an average of $500/week, you may receive paid sick leave in the amount of $1,000.
For California COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (80 hours), your employer may be required to provide you supplemental paid sick leave hours:
- If you have a regular weekly schedule, you will receive the total number of hours you are scheduled to work in a two-week period.
- If you work variable hours, you will receive 14x the average numbers of hours you worked per day over the last six months. For example, if you work on average two hours per day, you will receive 28 hours of supplemental paid sick leave.
Do I have to use my permanent paid sick days before using my COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave?
No, you can elect to save your permanent paid sick days and use your 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave first.
Can I use a sick day if I’ve been laid off?
No. You can only use paid sick days to get pay during days that you would otherwise be working.
I already used 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave in 2020. Do I get more sick days this year?
Yes. You are eligible for 80 hours (10 days) of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to be used in 2021 regardless of whether you used any hours in 2020. You are also eligible for your 48 hours of LA permanent paid sick leave in 2021.
If I took unpaid sick leave or used paid vacation days for a COVID-19 purpose between January 1, 2021 and now, can the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave be retroactively applied?
Yes. Your employer must pay you for your sick leave or replenish your paid vacation days. You should make a written or oral request to your employer.
Can my employer require a doctor’s note?
For permanent paid sick leave (48 hours), your employer can require a doctor’s note if you take three sick days in a row.
For COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (80 hours), your employer cannot require a doctor’s note.
Can my employer give me fewer hours, reduce my pay, or otherwise retaliate against me for taking paid sick leave?
NO. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for taking paid sick leave.
How can I request a sick day?
You can request a paid sick day orally or in writing. If you request a paid sick day orally, it can be helpful to send your employer an email or letter confirming your request.
When do the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave hours expire?
The COVID-19 supplemental hours will be available until September 30, 2021.
Who can I contact if my employer refuses to provide me with paid sick leave or has retaliated against me for taking paid sick leave?
If you are being denied paid sick days, you can file a complaint with a government agency.
- For state permanent paid sick leave, you can file a complaint with the California Department of Labor: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/HowToReportViolationtoBOFE.htm.
- For LA COVID-19 supplemental sick leave, you can file a complaint with the City of Los Angeles: https://wagesla.lacity.org/submit-complaint.
- If you would like legal assistance regarding your employment rights and options, you can contact Legal Aid at Work at 800-880-8047 or ACLU SoCal.
If you’re working in-person (not remotely), have contact with other people, test positive for COVID-19, or have COVID-19 exposure, Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards may apply to you.
If I test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 exposure, can I still come to work?
No. If you have COVID-19 or have spent 15+ minutes within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 within a 24-hour period, Cal/OSHA standards prohibit you from coming into work.
Can my employer waive the prohibition and allow me to work?
No, your employer is prohibited from allowing you to work if you have COVID-19 or have spent 15+ minutes within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 within a 24-hour period.
How long do I have to stay home?
If you test positive for COVID-19, you cannot return to work until your symptoms have improved. You must wait at least 1 day after you no longer have a fever of 100.4+ and 10 days after the beginning of your symptoms. If you test positive for COVID-19 and you have no symptoms, you must wait 10 days after you first positive test for COVID-19.
If you were exposed to COVID-19 but do not develop symptoms, you still must wait for 10 days before returning to work.
Can my employer temporarily reassign me?
Yes, your employer may temporarily reassign you to work that does not involve in-person contact with other people.
Will I still get paid?
Your employer is required to pay you if:
- You contracted COVID-19 at work; and
- You are otherwise available and able to work; and if not for the Cal/OSHA rules, you would still work. This means that if you’re too sick from COVID-19 to work, then you’re not eligible for pay under the Cal/OSHA rules. However, you may still be eligible for sick leave! Check above to see if you’re eligible for sick leave.
If I’m sick with COVID-19, do I have to use my sick leave?
Yes. Before paying you under the Cal/OSHA rules, your employer can require you to take all of your sick leave first.
Who do I contact if I believe my employer is violating my rights under the Cal/OSHA standards?
If your employer is not properly excluding you from work or is failing to provide you exclusion pay, you can file a workplace complaint with Cal/OSHA: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/Complaint.htm
Created by ACLU SoCal and Legal Aid at Work