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New COVID-19-Related Obligations for Los Angeles Employers

Written by
FordHarrison LLP, nationwide U.S. law firm with a singular focus on HR law.
The City of Los Angeles has implemented three executive orders that directly impact employers. The orders address paid sick leave due to COVID-19, face coverings at essential businesses, and protections to employees who work for grocery stores, pharmacies, and food delivery platforms.  

On 7 April 2020, the City of Los Angeles implemented three executive orders that directly impact employers:

  • An order providing supplemental paid sick leave due to COVID-19;
  • A worker protection order; and
  • A grocery, drug retail and food delivery worker protection order.


1. Supplemental paid sick leave due to COVID-19

This executive order requires certain employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. Unless otherwise exempt, the order applies to employers who have either 500 or more employees in the City of Los Angeles or 2,000 or more employees within the United States.

Employers are exempt from the sick leave order if they:

  • provide a minimum of 160 hours of annual paid leave;
  • started in Los Angeles between 4 September 2019 and 4 March 2020 (except for construction businesses and film producers);
  • are government agencies; or
  • were closed for 14 or more days or provided at least 14 days of leave due to a city official’s emergency order.


Eligible employees

Employees who work in Los Angeles and who have been employed by the same employer from 3 February 2020 through 4 March 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 emergency and health services personnel and critical parcel delivery workers.

Employees qualify for supplemental paid sick leave if:

  • they have COVID-19;
  • a healthcare provider recommends that they self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • they are at least 65 years old or have a health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or a weakened immune system;
  • they need to care for family members who are not sick but who are required or recommended to self-quarantine; or
  • they need to care for family members whose senior care provider, school, or childcare provider has closed temporarily 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 an amount no greater than the employee’s average two-week pay over the period of 3 February 2020 through 4 March 2020. Supplemental paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.

Employers may be able to offset this obligation under certain circumstances, and should seek legal advice for additional information.


Employers must provide the supplemental paid sick leave upon the employee’s request. 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.

2. Worker protection

The worker protection order applies to the following essential businesses:

  • grocery stores, convenience stores, and other retailers of food and household consumer products;
  • businesses that provide food, social services, and necessities to economically disadvantaged people;
  • hardware and building supply stores, day labour centres, and nurseries;
  • plumbers, electricians, exterminators, custodial and janitorial workers, handyman services, funeral home workers and morticians, movers, HVAC installers, carpenters, day labourers, landscapers, gardeners, property managers, 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; and
  • hotels and motels.


These employers must:

  • provide employees with non-medical-grade face coverings for their noses and mouths;
  • allow employees to wash their hands at least once every 30 minutes;
  • implement social distancing measures for customers, visitors, and employees;
  • post a social distancing protocol (a copy is attached to the order) at or near the entrance of each facility;
  • provide employees with a copy of the social distancing protocol; and
  • ensure access to a sanitary and properly stocked restroom.


These businesses are also encouraged but not required to install Plexiglas to separate cashiers and customers.

All essential, non-medical workers 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. Customers and visitors must wear coverings over their mouths and noses while shopping. Businesses may refuse service to anyone without a face covering.

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

3. Grocery, drug retail and food delivery worker protection

Grocery stores and drugstores 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:

  • to allow the employee to provide day care for the employee’s own child;
  • to allow the employee to care for a sick member of the employee’s immediate family or household; or
  • if the employee feels ill or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 or suspects having been exposed to COVID-19.


Before hiring a new employee, grocery stores and drugstores must offer work to current employees, so long as it does not result in overtime and the employee is qualified to perform the work.

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.

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.