Have employees working in Austin? If so, they may likely be entitled to mandatory paid sick leave come October.
While many employers offer some form of paid time off, there is no federal or state statute requiring employers to do so. And those employers that already provide paid leave often have a policy that an employee has to be employed for a period of time (90 days or even 1 year) before they can start accruing and/or using paid time off. But Austin has become the first city in the State of Texas to pass an ordinance requiring companies operating in Austin (regardless of where the company is based) to provide paid sick leave to those employees, and the employees begin accruing paid sick leave immediately at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. The ordinance requires employers to provide a minimum of 64 hours (8 days) of paid sick leave per year to those employees working in Austin. Small employers with less than 15 employees only have to provide 48 hours (6 days) of paid leave. Employees can carry over the accrued, unused leave to the following year (up to the applicable 8 or 6 day cap), and the employer is also required to provide monthly notifications to employees informing them of their sick leave balance.
While the Mayor has not yet signed the ordinance (but is expected to do so), the Austin City Council recently approved and passed the ordinance with an effective date of October 1, 2018. The city’s action could set up a showdown with the state Legislature. Not surprisingly, the conservative state legislators are often at odds with the agendas of the more liberal large cities. Several state senators and representatives have already vowed that they will work to aggressively strike down Austin’s ordinance on the basis that it imposes additional burdens and costs on business owners, especially small to mid-size businesses. The state legislature is not set to convene again, though, until 2019, so the ordinance will likely be in effect for some time before state politicians can address the issue. Thus, employers with employees working in Austin need to start making budgetary and logistical plans to comply with the new ordinance.