City of Los Angeles Expands Protections and Wages for Hotel Workers
Los Angeles, Calif. (July 15, 2022) - The City of Los Angeles formally adopted the Hotel Workers Ordinance on July 8, 2022. The key changes of this ordinance include an increase in minimum wage for all workers employed at large hotels, restrictions on the amount of square footage housekeeping employees can clean per shift, and additional protections for housekeeping employees.
Changes to Minimum Wage for Hotels with 60 or More Rooms
Under the new ordinance, hotel employers operating within the City of Los Angeles with 60 or more rooms, or those with 50 or more rooms and operating in the Airport Hospitality Enhancement Zone, must provide all employees (except managerial, supervisory, or confidential employees) an increased minimum wage of $18.17 per hour.
Full-time employees – those who work at least 40 hours a week will also receive 96 compensated hours off per year for sick leave, vacation, or personal necessity, in addition to 80 uncompensated hours off per year for sick leave.
Part-time employees – those who work fewer than 40 hours per week shall accrue compensated time off in increments proportional to that accrued by full-time employees. Employees are eligible to use accrued paid time off after the first six months of employment. Unused accrued time off carries over until it reaches a maximum of 192 hours, after which the employer shall provide a cash payment once every 30 days for accrued compensated time off over the maximum.
These same employers must also provide at least 80 hours of uncompensated time off to be used for sick leave for a full-time employee or a member of their immediate family. Employees who are considered part-time accrue uncompensated time off in increments proportional to that accrued by someone who works 40 hours per week. As with paid time off, employees are eligible to use accrued uncompensated time off after the first six months of employment.
Changes to Practices for Housekeeping Employees in Hotels
Personal Security Devices
All hotel employers must now provide a personal security device to hotel workers assigned to work alone in a guest room or restroom. The purpose is to permit employees to activate this device and leave the area in the event of threatening conduct or an emergency. The personal security device must provide direct contact between the hotel worker and hotel security guard or manager and signal the hotel worker’s location to the security guard or manager.
Hotel employers with 60 or more guest rooms must have a designated and assigned security guard to receive alerts and provide immediate on-scene assistance in the event that a personal security device is activated.
Hotel employers with less than 60 guest rooms may substitute a hotel manager or supervisor in lieu of a security guard, subject to training requirements.
Rights of Hotel Workers
Should a hotel worker bring to the attention of their employer any violent or threatening behavior, the employer must provide paid time off for the hotel worker to report the violent or threatening behavior to law enforcement and to consult with a counselor or advisor. Upon request of the hotel worker who was subject to the violent or threatening conduct, the employer must provide reasonable accommodations such as a modified work schedule or reassignment. Lastly, employers may not prevent a hotel worker from reporting violent or threatening conduct to law enforcement, nor take or threaten to take adverse employment action against the hotel worker for reporting the conduct.
Hotel employers must post notice of these employee rights in each guest room and restroom facility in the hotel with the heading “The Law Protects Hotel Workers From Threatening Behavior.”
Furthermore, under the new ordinance, hotel employers must provide annual training to hotel workers on both the use and maintenance of their personal security devices and on the rights of hotel workers set forth in the ordinance.
New Workload Limitations by Square Foot
For hotels with at least 45 guest rooms but fewer than 60 guest rooms, hotel employers shall not require a room attendant to clean a total of more than 4,000 square feet in any eight-hour workday unless the hotel employer pays the attendant 2x the attendant’s regular rate of pay for every hour worked during that workday.
For hotels with more than 60 rooms, the same rule applies where the square footage to be cleaned is equal to or exceeds 3,500 square feet.
The total workload limitation is further reduced by 500 square feet in each of the following circumstances: (1) where the attendant must clean special-attention rooms or additional bedrooms over five; (2) where the attendant is required to clean floor space on more than two floors of a hotel building during a workday; (3) and where the attendant is required to clean a floorspace in more than one hotel building during the workday.
The above limitations apply to any combination of spaces in the hotel, regardless of the amenities in the rooms. The workload limitations are prorated for employees who work less than or more than eight hours per day, or who clean rooms jointly.
Hotel employers must also state the actual square footage of each room in any written assignment of rooms provided for the attendants to clean. Hotel employers must maintain these records for three years.
New Overtime Restrictions
Under the ordinance, hotel employers cannot permit a hotel worker to work more than 10 hours in a workday unless the hotel worker gives written consent and the hotel employer has provided prior written notice that the hotel worker may decline to work 10 hours in a workday without adverse consequence.
Daily Room Sanitizing and Cleaning Policy Restrictions
Hotels cannot have policies against cleaning and sanitizing rooms every night after use, including incentivizing guests to forego cleaning, with the exception of sustainable environmental programs such as a “green program.”
New Preservation of Records Requirements
Hotel employers must now maintain three years of records for each room attendant, including their name, rate of pay, square footage of the room, and overtime hours worked each day. Copies of these records must be available to hotel workers who request a copy.
Limited Waiver for Some Hotel Employees
Hotel employers may be granted a waiver from the ordinance’s requirements if they demonstrate that compliance with the ordinance would require the hotel employer, in order to avoid bankruptcy or shutdown, to reduce its workforce by more than 20% or curtail the hotel worker’s total hours by more than 30%. Before seeking this relief, the hotel employer must provide notice of the application to all hotel workers.
Applicable to Entities that Contract with Hotels
Hotel employers that contract with another hotel employer, staffing agency, employee leasing agency, professional employer organization, or the like to obtain the services of hotel employees can be held jointly liable with these entities for violations of this ordinance.
Hotel employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under this ordinance. If an employee engages in protected activity within one year of an adverse employment action or termination, the employer must provide a detailed written statement of the reason or reasons for the adverse employment action or termination, including all facts claimed to substantiate the reason or reasons.
Employees who sue may recover actual damages, statutory damages of $100 per employee per day (up to a maximum of $1000 per day), and treble damages for willful violations. Prevailing employees will also recover their attorneys’ fees and costs, including expert witness fees.
This ordinance is complex and creates significant new obligations for employers operating within the City of Los Angeles. Hotel employers, regardless of size, should contact legal counsel to ensure compliance with this new ordinance.
For more information on this new ordinance, contact the author or editor of this alert, or visit our Labor & Employment Practice page to find an attorney in your area.
Elaine McCormick, Associate
Ashleigh Reif Kasper, Partner