SEIU Local 721 LA County COVID-19 Emergency Update

On Monday, March 30, 2020, LA County’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) sent a letter to all County employees announcing that two new leave programs – Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and FMLA Emergency Leave – would be available to all County employees effective Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

Unfortunately, Department of Human Resource Managers were neither briefed nor prepared to respond to employee requests to utilize the new leave. They had no forms. They had no pay codes. They had no guidance. Today, as the week comes to a close, they still have no forms, codes or guidance.

To make matters worse, yesterday the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) informed SEIU 721 and all County unions that the County had decided to “exempt” health care and “frontline responder” employees in DHS, DPH, DMH, Coroner, Fire, Sheriff, Public Works, ISD, DCFS, DPSS, and Probation Departments. HR 6201, the “Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” does not exempt such employees, but it does allow employers the option of applying the exemption on certain employees. As an employer, LA County has now announced that they have chosen to make this exemption applicable to some LA County departments.

Neither the CEO’s Monday letter to all County employees, nor the attached guidelines, made any mention of any “exempt” employees or Departments. This is a decision that LA County reached later.

What does it mean if I am “exempt?” Does it mean that I don’t get the 80 hours of EPSL or FMLA Emergency Leave?

NO. That is NOT what it means. All County employees will receive the additional 80 hours of EPSL and the FMLA Emergency Leave. It will show up on online pay statements beginning on April 7. But, if you are an “exempt” employee you must receive Department Head approval in order to use the new leave programs. From the Union’s point of view, leaving the decision of “who gets and who doesn’t get” to utilize those 80 hours solely to individual Department Heads may result in inequitable practices that can hurt our members.

So, rest assured that we understand that the pandemic has left many members in desperate situations – having to decide between their own health and safety, the safety of their children, and the need for continued income. And so, SEIU Local 721 will fight like hell to make sure that no requests to use EPSL or FMLA Emergency Leave are unreasonably denied!

We will provide further updates on this matter as soon as information is available.

Stay in touch. Stay calm. Stay safe.

Categories: Covid19 | Los Angeles County
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Shame of County of Los Angeles, On April 3, 2020 you decide to send an email and use verbiage to misdirect your employees to believe that we are NOT ALLOWED to take leave allowances that you AGREED to provide. It is only FAIR PRACTICE to allow us to care for our own health and our own families. Is this how you value your workforce?? Are our families not an important part of the community?? Shameful actions from an organization that should value their essential employees. We all became medical professionals to serve the patient community equally, fairly and ethically and… Read more »


totally agree… i feel the same exact way. It’s easy for them to say thank you, great job, because they are not out there. They can work from home if they choose to…. it is not their lives that is on the line. the notice today is very upsetting to everyone. It’s not right and it’s not fair. And for the department of labor to use such a broad definition of what healthcare provider is exempt is ridiculous!


We all need to join in and file a complaint and Alert the news, the media everyone, Strike or something how we are being treated with all that is imposed by them. this is Ridiculous


I agree Countywide Strike! What will happen if ALL
Of COUNTY of LOS ANGELES STRIKE during this time???!! Either give us time that is FAIR ! I can not continue to leave my elementary children at home I care for each other. They are just children. I can not send them to a stranger! I have no option!


It’s funny the union didn’t even get us these benefits but it taking credit for it.
the Federal government passed these benefits:

maybe the union should fight for protective equipment and hazard pay for people working. Right now if we work we get zero additional benefits. Might as well stay home LOL


We are fighting for PPE at the highest levels to protect employees.


The exclusion of healthcare workers and emergency responders was apparently stated on the FFCRA… then the department of labor release guidance and gave a very BROAD definition of health care provider that is excluded to pretty much exclude ANYONE who works in a hospital or medical facility, etc. So does this mean the DEAD END for us? So upsetting. Again, we have families too. We need to be able to take care of our families and children. Hopefully SEIU 721 can help us.

Ane Ter-minasyan

I got the email if you read it carefully it really doesn’t say we won’t get it


seems like we will get it, but just can’t use it.

Concerned Employee

What about the employees who have gotten the covid and took it to work how will the offices be cleaned



(Sec. 5104) Employers are prohibited from taking adverse actions against employees who take leave under this division, or take actions to enforce the requirements of this division.


County of Los Angeles is failing their workforce by sending that email of exemption out. No one prepared for what is happening and many of us are faced with staying home to protect our children and go without pay. The county of LOs Angeles should stop thanking us when they are forcing us. The ones at the top deciding to exempt us when we need it now are happily sitting at home still getting paid and able to care for their families. We haven’t had a surge just yet so why not let us use this time? The employees are… Read more »

Hopeless clerk

I agree totally! I work for the LASD as an entry level clerk & I am being told the same thing! While all upper management gets to work from home! This is ridiculously dangerous for us and our families. True colors are being shown by not only the county but also our dept. Supervisors. SEIU 721 needs to step up their game like SEIU local 99 when standing up for the people they are supposed to protect?!!! I see nothing from our union, we need help!

Lupe Ortega

We are ALL Front line staff and we have NO Protection??! NOT an option. We ALL must be entitle to Time off, NO ONE should be EXEMPT. Staff that need to use time off with proper verification should be entitled.

Concerned Employee

The people who are working get zero benefits, no time off, hazard pay or protective equipment.

Meanwhile other employees taking time off of work, taking 2 week paid and teleworking for 2 months.


What about hazard pay? This is ridiculous that we have to work without masks and without hand sanitizers, in buildings with confirmed COVID19 cases, while admin does nothing but twiddle their thumbs and send out nonsensical emails. What is the union doing about this?? We deserve to be compensated.

Concerned Employee

It seems like the people who are actually working are being punished. We don’t get any benefits, telework, protective equipment. Meanwhile other employees stay at home get 2 weeks full pay and then telework. Some that can’t telework but they found a way are told to do online training for a few hours and call it a day. How is that fair? Meanwhile those working are driving up to 60miles each way to come in and possibly get infected.


It could be worst, I work for DBH and I’m a field worker so upper management categories us as essential workers who must come to work everyday. All the beaches are closed. While every office worker is working from home being able to take care of their kids while working while us in the field have to struggle to find someone who’s not sick to take care of them.

kimberly Williamson

What about hazzard pay, bonus pay, or whatever you want to call it. We did sign up to be nurses which does expose us to things everyday people ideally don’t get exposed to. Although we generally have an idea of what those things are. However we did not sign up to put our lives in jeopardy everyday. We did not sign up to be wartime nurses. We are scared and don’t want to die for our jobs or bring it home to our families. Yet we show up because we’re needed. Why aren’t you fighting for us to be compensated… Read more »


Just in, peers with other employers have received over 2 weeks of emergency time.

Andrea Reese

Someone received the 80 hours.


Healthy people with no kids that are working receive ZERO benefits. Seems unfair and discriminatory. Any word on the hazard pay?


Healthy people with kids want to work! but STATE closed the schools. We are not choosing to just stay at home and take a pay cut because we have a choice. It’s actually ILLEGAL to leave a 2 year old, 5 year old at home alone. That’s unfair and discriminatory! The state is paying you to stay home with children if you work in private sector since its mandatory but County wants to fight it for us, this is a mandatory shut down not a choice. Then when we ask to work from home to be productive they don’t allow… Read more »

Beyond frustrated

Just FYI. Healthy people with childcare issues are being blocked from requesting EPSL. Choices are leave your kids in the parking lot at work or go home and not get paid at all! So sad for all employees being treated this way right now. Clapping, t shirts and pizza isn’t cutting it. Shame on LAC USC.


Can we use the 80 hours of EPSL intermittently? Can I use it to be out 1 day out of the week to be home due to my kids being out of school and work the remaining days? I’m an ITC with DPSS and my Supervisor said she does not know nothing of this, which is very hard to believe!


No, your supervisor knows nothing because no one knows anything about this other than what the union is telling us. Not even the district’s administrators know what’s going on. However, the above is a good indication that it is not what people are expecting it to be. We were declared disaster workers and, with that comes responsibilities. Meaning, someone has to mind the store. There are people that are not getting paid at all. You can’t expect the county to pay while you sit at home babysitting or just simply afraid of catching a bug. Currently, many employees are requesting… Read more »

Beyond frustrated

Mind the store? People have no control over school closures. County is definitely doing to their best to misinform and harass loyal employees into very tough situations. Family will trump disaster relief worker duties all day every day. I feel sorry for anyone who chooses any job or paycheck over their children.


If you work for government what can you expect? Government has to function and no one forces anyone to accept employment with a government agency. However, the job of civil servants is to provide the population essential services. If you are not at work who’s gonna do it? There’s a choice to be made, you can continue working and abide to the conditions of employment or you can quit. It seems like you want the cake and eat it too. I want my good o’l county job but when there’s an emergency you want to be treated differently and your… Read more »

Workforce Member

There’s work responsibilities and responsibilities as a parent when there’s school closures due to pandemic! This is the first school closure that has happened this long during a pandemic! Why is there a need to defend what is Morally correct. The CEO of county issued an email to employees regarding what we are rightfully entitled to and when it would take effect. We are all upset because there ended up being exclusions ! If there were exclusions that should have been brought up BEFORE the CEO decided to issue Guidelines to employees that did not include exclusions! That’s what we… Read more »


treated DIFFERENTLY?!! How about treated the same as everyone else that the state has elected to give the emergency sick pay. There is a reason it exist, This is extenuating circumstances so have a heart! and if you think its unfair then maybe you should find another job. All we are asking for is what was given to rest of Country and not be blocked by dept. Agree government had to function but they have found ways to function by teleworking and still want to micromanage it. Some Dept have the capabilities to work from home 100%, they have closed… Read more »

Hector Q.

So do we get the hours or not ? I want to spend time with my family. No excuses County !!!


It is a federal act.. yes everyone gets them. Spending time with your family is not a valid reason to take this EMERGENCY paid sick leave. You just admitted you will be abusing these hours.


First of all, as a DPSS employee, I want to say that I am GRATEFUL to have this job during this time. I don’t have to worry about being in the unemployment line. We also have to give them some credit. They have offered telework for all of those with their own computer at home – Some working 5 days a week – most others working 2 days a week. It was made clear that if you want to use any of your time on the books, no PA 158s are being denied. Verification is not needed after the third… Read more »


Still having work with the option to telework and be home and fully paid is a reason to be grateful. You are a part of the percentage with the option to do so. Others and Myself are not given the option at other facilities. I can tell you that you should not be assuming all your fellow county co workers are abusing the sick time. ( Aside from Hector up there who has no valid excuse) We RIGHTFULLY EARN our accrued sick time to be used when we are sick NOT related to Covid 19. There’s a difference when you… Read more »


I completely agree. I WAS NOT talking about those real frontline staff such as nurses. I’m talking about that percentage of folks not real frontline employees. I hear them complain but don’t give the credit the department deserves (DPSS). And those same people abuse time no matter a pandemic. We have people teleworking 5 days a week and the rest of us 2 days a week. No PA-158s are being denied and they are changing schedules to better accommodate people. The department is doing something.


Im with DPSS and I promise our district is not all nice and smooth as stated above. I know that is probably their intentions but they allow managers to intervene and use their own district discretion. I’ve been out and trying due to covid child care closure and they will not work with you if that is the issue. Everyone else can and have been allowed to work from home but i have to take pay cut! Im not even asking for a free ride im asking to work from home and NOPE.


I am a DPSS employee as well and I know that every office is run differently but I know for a fact that many offices are denying 158s due to operational needs including the call centers. People, so far, have only been permitted to call off and use those hours whether it be 100% sick or any other percentage. My office also did not approve anyone’s request for temporary telework because many people complained that it was not fair that people who had their own computers were being considered over people who would need the equipment. I am very grateful… Read more »

Ani Boghossian

Any updates?


People just need to read what the law actually says. There are many union employees abusing the leave already without being approved yet causing major service disruptions on many departments. People need to know that you need to be quarantined by a doctor and/or other health officials, you take sick to rule out COVID19 if you don’t you may be out of luck. Whether the county allows you to take the time or not, you need to have medical documentation to support your need to be absent. This doesn’t replace your regular sick but is an added benefit for those… Read more »


I agree that the time is to be taken if you need to be quarantined, seeking diagnosis, or diagnosed and in recovery. Simply if you are sick RELATED to COVID-19 NOT because you are in fear of getting one wants to get sick! And there needs to be acceptance that hey this will eventually be a norm in the future. There’s tons of things we can fear to be sick from. If anything I still Thank god that This is Covid and Not Ebola ! We need time to take care of our children, to do what we can… Read more »


County management is borderline gas lighting with them forcing us to go to the shelters. Just today managers at DMH said they did not want worker getting tested that did not have corona virus symptoms. A co worker almost started crying because she found out there was a person at the shelter that had corona virus. She found out when the person on the next shift gave her her number and called her. And she has a family. Other co dependent coworkers who are willing to die for their supervisor and the board of supervisors are being held up as… Read more »


Any word on the hazard pay?

Thank you federal government for giving us the current benefits:

maybe the Union can fight for hazard pay?


Hazard pay would be unfair!!! You signed the dotted line to be a County Worker so that entails Disaster worker too! Why should you get paid more for a job you signed up to do.

Unfair right!

Blah Blah

You work for seiu.


Is the aforementioned the final decision? There are many county workers that have been left wondering if the are to continue to use their accumulative time or request to use the EPSL. Thank you.


I knew that this was gonna have a bad ending for those that took the time off without waiting. Even if the county agree to no exempt employees people are using the time incorrectly. This is not an extension of regular sick leave but an additional benefit to employees affected by the COVID-19 in which medical certification and/or proof may be required. You have people with broken legs asking for ESPL. Really!

Beyond frustrated

The county and union are doing a great job of making employees feel guilty and or afraid of even requesting EPSL for covid related issues.


When you have over 60% of the staff requesting ESPL under false pretenses there are no feelings of guilt! You are not sticking it to the county, you are sticking it to the rest of us members that are working in the frontlines because someone has to do the work. In the process, it increases our workload and the chances of making deadly mistakes. The whole thing is selfish.


I am just trying to figure out why the union has been so quiet all of a sudden. We need answers!

Before the letter was emailed to the employees, I mentioned this leave to my boss, and finally they responded basically referring me to email that was sent Friday.

So I was denied and for the record the codes or hours are NOT in Ecaps


Probably because the information they provided didn’t turn out the way the thought it was gonna turn out. And, if the absenteeism that many county departments due to employees who are falsely claiming ESPL if an indication, I would tread carefully too. Due to employees being out, we are have had to pick up the slack for those who are calling unnecessarily sick, even using ESPL for broken feet. Go figure!


Exactly! The union was acting like they did something for us! When in fact, the extra 80 hours or emfla was made possible by the federal government! SEIU 721 is doing nothing to help us out, why do we pay them? They sit behind a computer or phone and do nothing!

Kim Holland

So how long is it going to take for Employee’s to use the Leave?? So Employees have been off since late February and March. It’s bad enough the County Doesnt want to pay Retro. Now they still cant figure out how to pay these Employee’s??. God Help you Guys!!


Just in the 80 hours are on the books.

Lucile Mundo

I am a LA County employee. Does this mean that I qualify to receive the 80 hours of EPSL? I haven’t been informed that this will appear on my April 7th paystub.

concerned employee

This is not only true (about the DH approval needed) about the leave being approved but also for TELEWORK. I only get 2 days of telework because I didn’t have a documented medical condition with the FMLA person! Who goes and reports a medical condition to an employer they had prior to being hired? I have asthma. It’s considered an underlying condition but the administration at my office had to “submit a request to HR for approval” when others have already been approved for it! I know of one person who was already approved for it who was self quarantining… Read more »

Vieanna Valiente


another angry employee

I was denied access to work from home due to the fact I work in the warehouse although I do not do warehouse work I due data entry for the warehouse that can very easily be done from home. I was told I’m abandoning my job when I’m needed. My presence here is not crucial. I also got threaten to be transferred if I had a problem doing my job. I am very upset. Not to mention I have a 12 yr old home alone and she only has me who fully cares and supports her. Needless to say I… Read more »