Oakland is one of several California cities that have expanded the requirements for providing emergency paid sick leave. Oakland's ordinance went into effect on May 12, 2020 and expires on December 31, 2020.
The city's ordinance applies to all employers with 50 or more employees between February 3, 2020 and March 4, 2020. It also applies to unregistered janitorial employers of any size, and franchises with fewer than 50 employees associated with a franchisor or network of franchises employing more than 500 employees in total.
Employers that allow employees to accrue at least 160 hours of paid leave hours (such as personal, sick, vacation) and allow employees immediate access to at least 80 hours of paid leave after May 12, 2020 for the uses allowed under the ordinance are exempt from the requirement to provide emergency paid sick leave, but are subject to the remainder of the ordinance.
AMOUNT OF LEAVE:
Each current employee who worked at least 40 hours per week within the city between February 3, 2020 and March 4, 2020, or at any point thereafter, or is classified as full-time, must be provided with 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave. Other employees must be provided with leave equal to the average number of hours the employee worked in the city over the 14 days with the highest number of hours worked from February 3, 2020 and March 4, 2020.
An employer may credit the total sick leave hours provided under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) against their obligations under the ordinance.
Employees may use leave under the ordinance for the same reasons allowed under the FFCRA plus the following reasons:
- When the employee needs to care for a family member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; or
- When the employee:
PAY DURING LEAVE:
Employers must pay 100 percent of the employee's normal hourly rate, up to a limit of $511 per day or $5,110 in total.
An employer may take reasonable measures to verify or document that an employee's use of the leave is lawful and may not require an employee to incur expenses in excess of $5 to demonstrate their eligibility for the leave.
Employers are expressly prohibited from requiring a doctor's note or other documentation for the use of the leave, except when an employee needs leave for "any condition certified by a healthcare professional as putting the employee at a heightened risk of serious illness or death if exposed to COVID-19." An employee obtaining such certification does not need to disclose their condition, only that they are at a heightened risk. The certification may be obtained by virtual or telephonic appointment.
The ordinance requires employers to post and/or provide a notice to their employees within three days after the city publishes it. The notice is translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese, and employers must provide the notice in all languages spoken by more than ten percent of employees.
Oakland employers should read the ordinance in full and ensure compliance. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.