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Monday, Nov 28, 2022

Council Separates Paid Time Off from Minimum Wage Hike Plan

Responding to an outcry from local business groups and from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council leaders late on Friday agreed to separate a controversial paid time off mandate from the minimum wage hike it plans to consider next week.

But the council is not dropping the paid time off proposal. Instead, three councilmembers will be introducing an amendment next week calling for enactment of a citywide paid sick leave policy by year’s end. That policy would add to the three sick days a year required by a new state law.

“The City Council will move forward with a vote this Tuesday on increasing the city’s minimum wage,” Council President Herb Wesson said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.

As for the paid sick leave, Wesson said, “While the state law on sick leave is well-intentioned, it is inadequate for working Angelenos and I’m collaborating with my colleagues to put a city policy on the books.”

In the statement, Wesson said that he, along with councilmembers Curren Price and Paul Krekorian, will introduce an amendment on Tuesday calling for city Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso to report back to the Council by June 23 with an analysis of the new state paid sick leave law, which passed last year and goes into full effect on July 1. She will also be instructed to compare the state law with more generous paid sick leave laws recently passed in Oakland and San Francisco.

After that analysis, the council is expected to craft an ordinance that would specify how many paid sick days an employer must provide. That ordinance may address which employers could be exempt or have more time to comply.

The paid time-off mandate approved by the council’s economic development committee on Wednesday included vacation and personal days. However, the focus on Friday was exclusively on sick days; any broader mandate for personal time off appears to have been dropped, at least for now.

Councilman Price, who chairs the economic development committee, was even more emphatic about enacting a paid sick leave law.

“We must include paid time off in our citywide minimum wage policy – anything less would be a disservice to the hardworking men and women of Los Angeles, because it does workers no good to earn more wages if they are living in fear of losing their job or if they become ill or need to care for a sick child.”

But the city’s major business groups have spoken out loudly against a paid time off mandate in the minimum wage hike plan. They were especially upset that a provision that could have required employers to pay minimum wage workers up to 12 days of time off annually was included in the plan without discussion. While labor groups and workers had brought the issue up in hearings, there was no inkling that the council was considering a paid time off mandate until 10 minutes before the committee vote.

“Including 12 days of mandatory paid time off for every employee in every business and nonprofit in Los Angeles was not discussed in public session,” said Gary Toebben, chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “This may happen in Sacramento or Washington, D.C., but it should never happen in Los Angeles. For business, this action creates a lack of trust in the City Council.”

Garcetti also publicly expressed displeasure over inclusion of the paid time off mandate in the minimum wage legislation, saying time off should be studied and debated separately.

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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