In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles City Council has approved an ordinance to increase compensation for healthcare workers, who they have referred to as “the backbone of the COVID-19 response.” The City Council has indicated that adequate compensation will help address the burnout, retention challenges, and worker shortages affecting healthcare workers in Los Angeles. It is anticipated that the mayor will sign the ordinance. The ordinance will become effective 30 days after the mayor’s signature.

 Minimum Wage Increased to $25

On the effective date of the ordinance, the minimum wage for covered employees will be $25 per hour. On January 1, 2024, and annually thereafter, the minimum wage will increase based on the annual increase in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPIW) for the Los Angeles metropolitan area (Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA), which is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employers are expressly barred from funding the wage increase by laying off healthcare workers, reducing their hours, reducing their vacation, healthcare, or other non-wage benefits, or increasing charges they incur for parking or work-related materials and equipment.

Covered Facilities and Employers

“Healthcare Worker” is defined as an Employee who is employed to work at or by a Covered Healthcare Facility to provide patient care, healthcare services, or services supporting the provision of healthcare. “Healthcare Worker” includes a clinician, professional, non-professional, nurse, certified nursing assistant, aide, technician, maintenance worker, janitorial or housekeeping staffperson, groundskeeper, guard, food service worker, laundry worker, pharmacist, nonmanagerial administrative worker and business office clerical worker, but does not include a manager or supervisor.

“Covered Healthcare Facility” means the following types of facilities, provided that they are privately owned and are located within the boundaries of the City of Los Angeles:

  1. A licensed general acute care hospital as defined in Section 1250(a) of the California Health and Safety Code.
  2. A clinic, as defined in Section 1206(d) of the California Health and Safety Code, that is conducted, operated, or maintained as an outpatient department of a general acute care hospital or acute psychiatric hospital.
  3. A licensed acute psychiatric hospital as defined in Section 1250(b) of the California Health and Safety Code, including an acute psychiatric hospital that is a distinct part of another health facility.
  4. A licensed skilled nursing facility, as defined in Section 1250(c) of the California Health and Safety Code, that is a distinct part of a general acute care hospital or acute psychiatric hospital.
  5. A licensed residential care facility for the elderly, as defined in Section 1569.2 of the California Health and Safety Code, that is located or licensed at the same address as an acute psychiatric hospital or is located on the same campus or parcel of real property as an acute psychiatric hospital.
  6. A licensed chronic dialysis clinic as described in Section 1204(b)(2) of the California Health and Safety Code.
  7. All facilities that are part of an Integrated Healthcare Delivery System.

One-Year Waiver

If an employer can demonstrate by substantial evidence that compliance with the ordinance would raise substantial doubt about the employer’s ability to continue to operate the facility, a court may grant a one-year waiver from the $25 per hour minimum wage requirement.