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L.A. County Approves ‘Hero Pay’ for Grocery Workers in Unincorporated Areas

The temporary ordinance requires grocery and drug retail employers to provide an additional $5 per hour, to employees working frontline positions as compensation for the hazards they continue to face during the COVID-19 pandemic. | Photo courtesy of L.A. County

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a temporary ordinance that requires larger grocers and drug retail stores located in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County to pay their employees no less than $5-per-hour hazard pay in addition to the employee’s base wage.

The new temporary “hero pay” ordinance applies only to grocery stores, drug stores, or large retailers that sell groceries or drug products:

  • In the unincorporated area of the County of Los Angeles.
  • With more than 10 employees per store. 
  • Which are part of a company that is either publicly traded or employs 300 or more people nationwide.

A study conducted by the Brookings Institution found that these top, publicly traded retailers have seen a 40% increase in profit averaging $16.7 billion in extra profit in 2020, while their stock prices increased by an average of 33%. Although these inequalities have been exposed, this public health crisis and the economic unraveling have widened the already deep divide between low-wage frontline workers and their employers and shareholders.

The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) will accept and investigate claims from workers of alleged violations of the ordinance, which will be in effect for 120 days beginning Friday.

“We understand that both workers and businesses are faced with significant challenges during this ongoing pandemic and we are here to help,” said Rafael Carbajal, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. “Our role is to enforce the ‘hero pay’ ordinance and to ensure that workers know their rights and that businesses understand their responsibilities and remain in compliance.”

Workers must work at least two hours in a one-week period physically within a grocery retail or drug retail store in any unincorporated area of the county to be entitled to the new “hero pay.”

If you are a worker or a business owner seeking more information about L.A. County’s new temporary ordinance, contact DCBA:

To find out if a grocery retail or drug retail store is in unincorporated Los Angeles County, visit the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk website at lavote.net/precinctmap and select “District Map Look Up By Address.”

Cities across the nation have introduced similar urgency ordinances for “Hero Pay” including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Oakland, Berkeley, West Hollywood, Irvine, Coachella, Pomona, and Montebello.

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