COVID VACCINE URGENCY ORDINANCE ISSUED MAY 18 & Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)

On May 18, effective immediately, the county of Los Angeles passed an urgency ordinance on May 18 that mandates additional paid leave for some employees in unincorporated areas of the county to be vaccinated. The ordinance applies retroactively to Jan. 1, similar to the state Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL). The ordinance will sunset on Aug. 31.

Previously in March, California passed an expanded COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave statute (SPSL) that included coverage for employees to get vaccinated.

Under the May 18 urgency ordinance, all employers in the unincorporated areas of the county of Los Angeles are covered.

Full- and part-time employees who have exhausted time off under the state SPSL and who perform any work in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County are eligible for the new Los Angeles County paid-time-off entitlement.

Full-time employees—defined as either those employees designated by the employer as full-time or who worked or were scheduled to work on average at least 40 hours per week in the two weeks preceding their leave—are entitled to use up to 4 hours of additional paid time off, per vaccination injection.

Part-time employees would be entitled to a prorated portion of additional paid time off.

Covered employers must post in a conspicuous place a written notice that will be made available electronically by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. The posting is not yet available on the county’s website.

Covered employers will be required to maintain records that show compliance with the ordinance. Records must include payroll records for a four-year period.

In related news, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board announced that it will not move to adopt the proposed revisions to the existing Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).

The Deputy Chief of Cal/OSHA asked the Standards Board to hold off on voting and allow the state safety agency the opportunity to present a new proposal at a future meeting with a targeted effective date of June 15. It appears that additional revisions to Cal/OSHA’s ETS are likely underway, in response to the latest CDC guidance for vaccinated individuals. Labor officials and worker advocates are pushing back against adoption of the loosened masking guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.

For California employers, this turn of events could result in more flexibility and consistency, as state rules could fall closer in line to track the loosened federal CDC guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. It can also heighten restrictions for California employers, depending on what happens. As we wait, California employers are still under the current safety standard—which makes no accommodation for fully vaccinated employees when it comes to masking. The only loosened restriction that California employers may currently follow is the updated guidance easing quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated asymptomatic employees in non-healthcare workplaces.

Sources: Jackson Lewis in Los Angeles. © 2021 Jackson Lewis and 2021 Fisher Phillips. © 2021 Fisher Phillips.