Fight Heats Up Over Sick Pay in Texas Cities

San Antonio City Council approved a Paid Sick Leave Ordinance on Thursday, August 16, 2018, which allows workers to accrue up to 64 hours of paid sick leave each year. This law largely tracks the recent Austin sick pay ordinance, passed in February 2018. The highlights of the San Antonio legislation are:

  • Under the ordinance, employers are required to grant employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, subject to yearly caps. For employees with 15 or fewer employees, the cap would be six (6) days per year. For larger employers, the cap would be eight (8) days of paid sick time. Employees may use this leave for physical or mental illness, preventative care or to care for a family member. Paid sick time becomes available for an employee’s use as soon as it accrues.
  • Most employers will have to comply with the Ordinance beginning August 1, 2019. Employers with five employees or fewer do not need to comply until August 2021.
  • Employers who already provide more generous sick leave policies than those proscribed by the ordinance are not required to make any changes.
  • The law only applies to persons who work within the city limits of San Antonio for at least 80 hours per calendar year.

The ordinance was passed outright after supporters gathered more than 144,000 signatures, which would have been enough to force an election by popular vote. Notwithstanding the recent passage of the ordinance in San Antonio, a state appellate court blocked the Austin ordinance from taking effect on Friday, August 17. The appeal was from a trial court decision in Austin which had allowed the ordinance to take effect. It is expected that a similar lawsuit to block the San Antonio ordinance will also be filed. State lawmakers have also promised to pass legislation in the 2019 session that would declare such statutes invalid and preempted by state law. This will be an important test of separation of powers between the more conservative state government and more liberal cities like Austin.

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HR Headaches is a blog for Human Resources professionals, business owners, and in-house counsel to get the latest news, analysis and tips in the area of labor and employment law. Every day there are new court decisions, agency interpretations, and regulations which affect the workplace, making it difficult, if not impossible, for many employers to keep current. HR Headaches is dedicated to providing information in a practical, no-nonsense manner to help employers avoid legal disputes and keep policies up to date.
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