The Ordinance provides protection for hotel keepers

The Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance last month that gives security protections to hotel housekeepers and raises the minimum wage at more hotels in the city. Los Angeles joins neighboring cities West Hollywood and Santa Monica in passing an ordinance to protect hotel workers.

In a 10-2 vote, the council approved workplace safety, load, pay and retention measures for hotel workers on June 28. Council members Paul Krekorian and John Lee voted against the measure.

Brought before the council thanks to 100,000 signatures on a petition, the ordinance, which still needs to be signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to become law, requires hotels to supply their workers with personal safety “panic button” devices and hotels with 60 rooms or more. will be required to hire full-time security guards.

The ordinance also limits the total amount of square footage an employee is allowed to clean each day.
Pete Hillan, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Hotel Association, said hotel workers will have their hours reduced because of mandates about the amount of square footage an employee is allowed to clean each day.

“Strict and unscientific work rules for square footage limit our employees, who often count on overtime for extra income,” he said.
The downtown trade organization for hoteliers and their service and supplier partners advocated putting the measure before voters as a ballot proposal, which the council had the option of doing.

No economic analysis was done on how the changes would affect the city’s temporary occupancy tax, Hillan said.

wages

In addition to the new safety protocols, hotels with more than 45 rooms will have to pay a wage premium if workers put in overtime. Hotel operators will also need to obtain the written consent of an employee to spend more than 10 hours a day. Exceptions will be granted to hotels experiencing economic difficulties.

The ordinance also extends the current minimum wage for hotels with 60 or more rooms from hotels with 150 rooms or more. The minimum wage rose to $16.04 from $15 in Los Angeles on July 1.

Alan Reay, president of Atlas Hospitality, a Newport Beach-based brokerage firm that specializes in hotel sales, called the ordinance a good idea and added that he didn’t think any hotel owners or operators would oppose it.
“Anything you can do to protect your workers is definitely a very good thing to have,” Reay said.

Hillan said the hotel association’s membership was all about the safety aspects of the ordinance and that most of its members already have panic buttons for front-of-house staff.
“Most of the safety standards we comply with or are on track to comply with,” Hillan said.

However, the issue will be cost, Reay said.
Hotels are just coming out of the downturn from the Covid-19 pandemic and are finding it difficult to replace employees. Inflation is also a concern for operators looking to protect their bottom line.

One of the ordinance’s requirements is that any hotel with 60 rooms or more must employ a full-time security guard “which in principle is not a bad idea,” Reay said.
“From a hotel added cost perspective, it’s whether they’re able to pass that cost on in terms of hotel room rates,” he added, stating that hotels would look to pass the cost on to travelers rather than take that burden themselves. .

If a hotel has fewer than 60 rooms, the city will allow a supervisor or manager to act in the capacity of a security guard.
“But obviously they’re going to have to go through training and everything,” Reay said.
Sarah Wiltfong, director of advocacy and policy for the Business Federation of Los Angeles County, or BizFed, said the group was disappointed by the council’s “short-sighted” outcome.

Wiltfong

“This ordinance does little to protect hotel workers and instead will limit their ability to receive overtime pay, hinder green hotel programs when LA City is seeking more sustainability, and significantly increase hotel costs that will discourage tourism and reduce city tax revenue as we have seen in other jurisdictions,” Wiltfong wrote in an email.

BizFed always encourages elected officials to do an economic assessment before enacting sweeping measures, especially in an industry still reeling from the pandemic, Wiltfong added.
“It is unfortunate that they did not do so in this case,” Wiltfong wrote.

Similar laws

The action of the city council is not new for the cities of the region. Long Beach, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Glendale have all passed similar laws.
Santa Monica was the first, passing its own ordinance, called the Home Caregiver Bill of Rights, in August 2019.

Like the Los Angeles ordinance, Santa Monica’s law requires panic buttons for housekeeping staff and a square footage-based limit on how much space an individual worker can clean each day.

“If a room worker is assigned work above the square footage cap during their workday, an employer must compensate them at twice their regular rate of pay for all hours worked—not just those hours worked in space beyond the square footage limit,” according to the ordinance.

The West Hollywood ordinance was approved in August of last year by a 4-1 vote. It also requires panic buttons for cleaning staff and a square footage-based limit on the amount of space an employee can clean each day.
But Los Angeles’ ordinance goes further than other cities in requiring mandatory daily cleaning of rooms and laundry.

The mandate to clean rooms daily comes at a time when city residents are being asked to reduce water consumption by up to 35%, said the hotel association’s Hillan.
“With towels and sheets cleaned every day, there is an increase in water consumption,” he said.

While a guest can choose to opt out of having their room cleaned daily, it’s a painstaking task to do so and not as simple as it once was, as hotels can no longer suggest it, Hillan added.

“We have to be careful who leads that conversation,” he said. “Prior to the ordinance, we were only allowed to ask, ‘Hey, in the interest of the environment if you’re staying (more than one night) let us know if you prefer not to have your towels and sheets cleaned.'”

However, Reay of Atlas Hospitality was not surprised that the council passed the law.
“It’s unfortunate that we need to have protections like this, but again, anything you can do to increase safety for your employees is always (of interest),” Reay said.

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