Paid Time Off Requirements

As of July 1, 2022, West Hollywood, California, home to the famous Sunset Strip and Melrose shopping district, is now one of a handful of cities in California that requires employers to provide paid time off to employees (rather than just paid sick time).

West Hollywood’s Minimum Wage Ordinance, passed late last year, requires that qualifying employees who work at least two hours of work per week in the City are entitled to paid time off.  Full-time employees who work at least 40 hours per week are entitled to 96 hours of paid time off per year, totaling 12 full days off.  The time is pro-rated for employees who work less than 40 hours per week.

The paid time off can be used for sick leave, vacation or personal necessity.  Employees are eligible to use the time once they have been with an employer for six months, unless the employer’s policy allows for earlier use.  Accrued but unused time off must be carried over from year to year, up to a cap of 192 hours (that’s 24 whole days!).

The Ordinance also grants employees up to 80 hours of unpaid time off per year, which can be used for illness of the employee or the employee’s immediate family after paid time off has been exhausted.  Unpaid time off also is pro-rated for employees who work less than 40 hours per week, and must be carried over until the employee reaches a cap of 80 hours.

The only exceptions to the Ordinance are for Transitional Employers that provide transitional jobs and supportive services for the long-term unemployed and employees covered by a qualifying collective bargaining agreement.

Employers can apply to the City Manager for a waiver from these requirements if compliance would cause (i) bankruptcy or a shutdown of the business; (ii) more than 20% reduction of the employer’s workforce; or (iii) a more than 30% reduction of employees’ total hours.  Any waiver is only good for a single year, so qualifying employers will need to reapply each year.

Minimum Wage Increases

The Ordinance also sets minimum wages for West Hollywood employees, which varies based on whether the employer is a hotel, and whether the employer has at least 50 employees.  The minimum wage for hotel employees is $17.64, and may increase starting July 1, 2023 based on the Consumer Price Index.  As of July 1, 2022, the minimum wage for non-hotel West Hollywood employees increased to $16.50 per hour (for employers with at least 50 employees) or $16.00 per hour (for employers with less than 50 employees).  The minimum wage for non-hotel employees in the City increases on January 1, 2023, and again on July 1, 2023.  Employers are also required to post the City Minimum Wage bulletin in the workplace.

Employers in West Hollywood should review their paid time off policies and rates of pay to ensure compliance with the new requirements in effect.  Failure to comply can result in an enforcement action by the City or an individual employee.

Other Local Requirements to Watch Out For

The paid leave requirements for employees in California are numerous and complex.  West Hollywood joins a number of California cities that require employers to provide some type of paid leave in excess of the state’s paid sick leave requirement.  Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Monica all have varying paid sick leave requirements that employers must comply with. 

In addition, numerous cities including Alameda, Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Malibu, Milpitas, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose, to name just a few, have minimum wage requirements that exceed the state law.