New COVID-19-Related Obligations for Los Angeles Employers

Date   Apr 8, 2020

Executive Summary: On April 7, 2020, the City of Los Angeles implemented three executive orders that directly impact employers: (1) the Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Due to COVID-19 (providing 80 hours of paid sick leave to certain employees); (2) the Worker Protection Order (requiring face coverings at essential businesses); and (3) Grocery, Drug Retail and Food Delivery Worker Protection Order (prescribing certain protections to employees who work for grocery stores, pharmacies, and food delivery platforms).

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Due to COVID-19

On March 27, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance requiring employers with 500 or more employees to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. On April 7, 2020, Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order suspending the City Council’s ordinance and superseding it with the following provisions:

Impacted Businesses. Unless otherwise, exempt, the ordinance applies to employers who meet either of the following conditions:

  • Employers with 500 or more employees in the City of Los Angeles
  • Employers with 2,000 or more employees within the United States

Note: The City Council’s ordinance (now superseded) applied to any employer with 500 or more employees nationwide.

Exempt Businesses. The following employers are exempt from the order and are not required to provide supplemental paid leave:

  • Generous Leave – employers that have a paid leave policy that provides a minimum of 160 hours of paid leave annually
  • New Businesses – employers (except for construction businesses and film producers) that started in the City of Los Angeles or that relocated from outside the City on or after September 4, 2019 through March 4, 2020.
  • Government agencies
  • Closed Businesses and Organizations – businesses that were closed for 14 or more days due to a city official’s emergency order or provided at least 14 days of leave

Eligible Employees.

Employees who work in Los Angeles and who have been employed by the same employer from February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020 are entitled to supplemental paid sick leave if the employee is unable to work or telework due to a qualifying reason.

The order exempts the following employees:

  • Emergency and health services personnel (which is broader than the City Council’s ordinance, which only exempted first responders and health care providers)
  • Critical Parcel Delivery

Qualifying Reasons to Take Supplemental Paid Sick Leave:

  1. To take time off due to COVID-19 infection
  2. To take time off because a public health official or healthcare provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  3. To take time off because the employee is at least 65 years old or has a health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or a weakened immune system
  4. To take time off because the employee needs to care for a family member who is not sick but who public health officials or healthcare providers have required or recommended isolation or self-quarantine
  5. To take time off work because the employee needs to care for a family member whose senior care provider or school/child care provider temporarily closes in response to COVID-19

Amount of Leave

  • Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave.
  • All other employees are entitled to “no greater than the employee’s average two week pay over the period of February 3, 2020 through March 4, 2020.”

Supplemental paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.

Employers may be able to offset the obligation to provide supplemental paid sick leave under certain circumstances. Contact your legal representative for additional information.


Employers must provide the supplemental paid sick leave upon the oral or written request from the employee. Employers are prohibited from asking employees to provide a doctor’s note or other documentation to support a request for supplemental paid sick leave.


Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who request supplemental paid sick leave. Employees claiming a violation of the order may seek reinstatement, front and back pay, any supplemental leave unlawfully withheld, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Worker Protection Order

Impacted Essential Businesses

The following essential businesses are subject to the requirements of the Worker Protection Order:

  • Grocery stores, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of food and household consumer products
  • Businesses that provide food, social services and necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals
  • Hardware and building supply stores, day labor centers, and nurseries
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, custodial/janitorial workers, handyman services, funeral home workers and morticians, moving services, HVAC installers, carpenters, day laborers, landscapers, gardeners, property managers and leasing agents, and private security personnel
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers
  • Restaurants
  • Individuals and businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, or goods directly to residences or businesses
  • Taxis, ride-sharing services, and other private transportation services
  • Hotels and motels

Obligations Imposed on Employers

Employers in the sectors identified above must:

  • Provide employees with non-medical grade face coverings for their nose and mouth
  • Allow employees to wash their hands at least once every 30 minutes
  • Implement social distancing measures for customers, visitors and employees
  • Ensure access to a sanitary and properly stocked restroom

Finally, businesses are encouraged but not required to install Plexiglas to separate cashiers and customers.

Obligations Imposed on Employees

All essential, non-medical workers who work in the sectors listed above must wear the face coverings provided by their employers while at work. In addition, employees must wash the face covering at least once a day and properly dispose of single-use masks.

Obligations Imposed on Customers

Customers and visitors of the businesses listed above must wear non-medical grade face coverings over their mouths and noses while shopping. Businesses may refuse admission or service to any individual who fails to wear the required face covering.


Failure to comply with the order is a misdemeanor subject to fines and imprisonment.

Grocery, Drug Retail and Food Delivery Worker Protection

On March 27, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance providing protections to employees who work for grocery stores, drug retail stores, and food delivery platforms. On April 7, 2020, Mayor Garcetti implemented an executive order with minor revisions to the ordinance.

Right to Schedule Changes

Grocery stores and drug retail stores are required to approve an employee’s request to change a work schedule and food delivery platforms must allow an employee to decline orders without negative repercussions for any of the following reasons:

  1. To allow the employee to provide daycare for the employee’s own child;
  2. To allow the employee to care for a sick member of the employee’s immediate family or household; or
  3. If the employee feels ill or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 or suspects having been exposed to COVID-19.

Note: The ordinance passed by the City Council did not expressly allow food delivery platforms to allow an employee to decline orders for the reasons stated above.

Additional Work Hours Offered to Current Employees Before Hiring New Workers

Before hiring a new employee or using a staffing agency, grocery stores and drug retail stores must offer work to current employees - so long as it does not result in overtime and the employee is qualified to perform the work).

Note: The ordinance passed by the City Council applied this rule to food delivery platforms as well.

Food Delivery Platforms

Food delivery platforms must offer employees a “no contact” delivery method, as well as written guidance and detailed instructions on how to perform a “no contact” delivery.

No Retaliation

Employers may not retaliate against any employee for opposing any practice prescribed by the ordinance or otherwise asserting rights under the ordinance. Employees claiming a violation may file a lawsuit seeking reinstatement, back pay, and attorneys’ fees.

If you have any questions regarding this Alert, please contact the author, Stefan Black, Office Managing Partner for FordHarrison's Los Angeles office at Of course, you may also contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.

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