Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, January 25, 2002


Page 3


Board to Weigh Mandating That County Contractors Pay Employees While They Perform Jury Service


By ROBERT GREENE, Staff Writer


Businesses seeking county contracts would have to certify that they pay their employees for jury duty under a motion to be presented Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors.

The proposal by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mike Antonovich would require Los Angeles County contractors to give full pay for at least five days for every full-time employee who lives in the county and is called away from work for jury service. Exceptions would be made for companies with 10 or fewer employees and less than $500,900 annual gross revenues, and for firms that do less than $50,000 a year in county business.

Businesses with collective bargaining agreements that explicitly supersede the requirement also would be exempt.

The county began mulling the proposal July 3, when the board ordered a series of studies on jury service and benefits amid reports that the number of businesses offering paid time off for employee jury duty has steadily declined over the last decade.

County Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen reported Dec. 24 that no other counties or municipalities in California make paid jury duty a prerequisite for contracts. He suggested that the county seek state legislation imposing the mandate, to “result in a more even distribution of the cost of lost productivity amongst employers.”

He also recommended pressing for state legislation to increase juror pay from the current $15 a day—already tripled from the longstanding $5 rate in place until last year—to $50, which in an eight-hour day would match California’s current minimum hourly wage of $6.25.

A majority of firms who responded to a county Small Business Commission survey reported that they would be unable to reimburse workers for jury duty, leading Janssen to recommend the exemptions.

“Further,” Janssen said in his report, “we believe the adoption of such a mandate for paid jury leave may increase County contracting costs, as it is reasonable to assume that firms would include the cost of providing jury duty benefits in their bids.”

The county has paid full wages and salaries for its employees’ time off for jury duty since the early 1990s.

Bidders for county and city contracts typically face a host of special requirements in exchange for seeking billions of dollars in local government service and supply contracts.

Current requirements for Los Angeles County contractors include certifying that no employees are in arrears in their child support payments, completing statistical reports on employees, notifying employers regarding their earned income tax credit and, for cafeteria contracts and for bidders seeking jobs that could be performed by county employees, that they pay their workers a “living wage,” as defined by county ordinance.


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company