Two More California Cities Enact COVID-19 Paid Leave Requirements

In response to COVID-19, Oakland and Long Beach join four other California localities to require employers to provide temporary paid leave to employees.

Since our May 2020 update on actions by state and local government officials enacting temporary leave requirements, Oakland and Long Beach have enacted COVID-19 paid leave requirements. This brings California up to a total of six local ordinances, with three in Southern California (Long Beach, Los Angeles (city and unincorporated areas of the county) and three in Northern California (Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose), and one statewide requirement, which applies to food-sector workers only. Generally, the leave is available for employees to use for COVID-19-related leave purposes, including care for oneself and self-quarantine, caring for sick or quarantining family members and caring for eligible family members whose school, daycare or childcare is closed.

For more details, see below:

  • Oakland is requiring employers to provide 80 hours of paid leave to full-time employees (defined as 40+ hours per week). Employees taking paid leave and working less than full-time must be paid an amount equal to their highest average two-week pay from 2/3/2020 - 3/4/2020 within Oakland. Employers already providing generous paid leave benefits (defined as accruing up to 160 hours of paid leave per year) do not have to provide additional leave as long as employees, regardless of their full- or part-time status, immediately have 80 hours of leave available regardless of how much time they have already used. A unique provision of the law requires employers to cash out laid off employees’ existing accrued and unused paid leave under the pre-existing Oakland paid sick leave (PSL) ordinance. The law is effective 5/12/2020 and expires by 12/30/2020, unless extended.
  • Long Beach is requiring employers to provide 80 hours of paid leave to full-time employees (defined as 40+ hours per week). Employees not working full-time must receive an amount equal to the number of hours an employee works, on average (provides for a 6- month lookback period from May 19). Similar to Oakland, the law also exempts employers providing generous paid leave. A unique provision of the law permits employers to reduce the amount of leave it must provide by the number of paid leave hours – excluding previously accrued hours – it provided employees on or after March 4, 2020, for COVID-19 purposes. The law is effective 5/19/2020 and does not have an expiration date but requires the city manager to report to the city council and mayor every 90 days. The council will determine the end date.

Next Steps

We recommend that employers with operations in California:

  • Review current leave policies to determine what changes to leave provisions you may need to make to accommodate the new state and local requirements; and
  • Work with HR, payroll and any third-party vendors to determine what steps, if any, are needed to comply.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns about these or other regulatory and compliance issues, please contact us.

We provide this material for informational purposes only; it is not a substitute for legal advice.

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