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Recent Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Guidance and Paid Leave Requirements for Schools
On January 5, 2022, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (“LADPH”) issued new guidance regarding COVID-related requirements for employers. The guidance stated, in part, that employers must “[m]aintain and continue the wages, earnings, and the rights and benefits of employees while they are required to be away from the worksite because they are either a COVID-19 case or were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace.” This statement has led some schools to question whether the phrase “a COVID-19 case” includes employees who contract COVID-19 outside of the workplace. We do not believe that is the case.
Under the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), schools are required to exclude employees from the workplace when:
- They have COVID-19;
- An employee who is eligible for and has not received a booster shot and has close contact exposure to a COVID-19 case; or
- When a vaccinated employee has close contact exposure to a COVID-19 case and experiences symptoms associated with COVID-19.
During the exclusion period, the regulations require that employers maintain employees’ earnings, benefits, and wages if the close contact exposure was work-related. The regulation does not cover exposures that occur outside of the workplace. Please see our prior Special Bulletin on “Employer Obligations After the Expiration of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave” for more information.
There are two local requirements that provide benefits for those exposed to COVID-19. Los Angeles County extended supplemental sick leave benefits to all employers with 500 or more employees nationally and to all employers in the unincorporated areas of the County. The City of Los Angeles issued a Public Order on COVID-19 requiring employers with 500 or more employees within the City of Los Angeles or 2,000 or more employees within the United States to provide supplemental paid sick leave to their employees. Neither the county nor the city requirements apply to the vast majority of Los Angeles county private schools.
We are not aware of other statutes, regulations, or guidance that would require paid leave. As a result, we do not believe schools need to provide paid leave when an employee contracts COVID-19 outside of the workplace.
LCW attorneys have experience advising California schools on COVID-19 related issues. We will continue to track federal, state, and local guidance closely. Please reach out to an LCW attorney with any questions.
 8 C.C.R. 3205(c)(9)(C).