On May 18, 2021, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance requiring employers in unincorporated areas of the county to provide up to four hours of paid leave to employees who need time off related to receiving the COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine. The ordinance took effect immediately but applies retroactively to January 1, 2021, and is scheduled to expire on August 31, 2021.
Employees can use the paid leave to travel to and from a vaccine appointment, to receive the vaccine, and to recover from any symptoms that prevent them from working. Full-time employees may take up to four hours of paid leave; the amount is prorated for part-time employees. The time off is paid at the “normal” rate of pay, based on the employee’s highest average two-week pay rate during the period of January 1, 2021 through May 18, 2021.
This paid vaccine leave is in addition to regular California paid sick leave under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 and is also in addition to California 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL). Importantly, in order to take the county’s paid vaccine leave, employees must have exhausted their SPSL (which applies to employers with 26 or more employees and allows up to 80 hours of paid leave for reasons related to COVID-19, including time off to attend a vaccine appointment or recover from adverse effects of the vaccine).
Employees are protected from retaliation for seeking or using the paid vaccine leave and have up to three years to sue for violations of the ordinance. The county may also bring an enforcement action. You must retain records of the paid leave for at least four years. Waivers of the right to the leave generally aren’t allowed, except that a collective bargaining agreement may waive the right to the leave if the waiver is explicitly stated in the agreement in clear and unambiguous terms.
Tips: You may require employees to provide written verification that they received the vaccine, in order to receive pay for their time off. Although you’re required to display a poster created by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA), the poster hadn’t yet been uploaded to the DCBA’s website, so you’ll need to check back for it. Questions? Contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.