On May 12, 2020, Oakland passed an emergency ordinance joining Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose in requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees for COVID-19-related reasons.  Codified as Code of Ordinances Chapter 5.94 and known as the “Protecting Workers and Communities During a Pandemic – COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance” (Emergency Paid Sick Leave), Oakland’s new paid sick leave requirements aim to fill the gaps in the coverage provided by the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA).

Covered employers

Unlike the FFCRA, which only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees, Oakland’s new paid sick leave requirements apply to all private employers, regardless of the number of employees, but subject to the exemptions noted below.  Covered employers must pay the Emergency Paid Sick Leave payment by no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the employee takes Emergency Paid Sick Leave, and no more than 14 days after the employee takes Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
Continue Reading Oakland passes COVID-19 paid sick leave

Health officials in six Bay Area counties – Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa – have issued orders mandating the use of face coverings in public areas like essential businesses, common spaces, and on public transit. The San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, and Sonoma county orders went into effect on April 17; however, enforcement of the San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo county orders will not begin until 8 a.m. on April 22, 2020.  The Contra Costa and Marin county orders went into effect at 8 a.m. on April 20, 2020.

Acceptable face coverings

Under these orders, individuals should not purchase N95 or other factory-made masks in order to meet the requirements.  Those masks should be reserved for health care workers.  Instead, individuals should use any cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face – even if homemade.    Examples of acceptable face coverings include a scarf or bandanna; a neck gaiter; a homemade covering made from a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or towel, held on with rubber bands or otherwise; or a mask, which need not be medical-grade.
Continue Reading Bay Area counties mandate face coverings for essential businesses and other public areas

On April 7, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance (PHELO) to expand paid sick leave and emergency family medical leave benefits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  That ordinance was not signed and enacted by Mayor Breed, and the Board of Supervisors has now passed an amended version of the ordinance (Amended PHELO), on April 14, 2020, which is awaiting the mayor’s signature.  Although the Amended PHELO is substantially similar to the previous version, it includes three key changes in that it (1) expands the definition of covered employees; (2) clarifies the calculation and availability of leave; and (3) modifies leave guaranteed to health care providers and emergency responders.
Continue Reading San Francisco Board of Supervisors approves amended paid sick leave ordinance in response to COVID-19 pandemic

On April 7, 2020, San Francisco, California and San Jose, California passed emergency ordinances to expand paid sick leave and emergency family medical leave benefits.  The ordinances cover gaps under federal law by expanding leave benefits under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act), which is limited to employers with fewer than 500 employees, to employers with more than 500 employees.  Under the ordinances, employers must provide to each employee paid sick time to the extent that the employee is unable to work or telework because:

  1. The employee is subject to quarantine or isolation by federal, state, or local order due to COVID-19, or is caring for someone who is quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19.
  2. The employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 or is caring for someone who is so advised by a health care provider.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for a minor child because a school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19.


Continue Reading San Francisco and San Jose expand paid sick leave in response to COVID-19 outbreak