As cities across the United States become more open to paid leave legislation, employers in Austin, Texas are left wondering if they must provide notice of sick leave rules to their employees. The Austin City Council recently passed an ordinance that allows employees to use earned sick leave right away, without a waiting period. However, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and other organizations representing employers' interests have filed a lawsuit claiming that the ordinance violates the Texas Constitution and state minimum wage laws. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employers with 50 or more employees located within 75 miles of the employee taking leave must grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid work-protected leave.
But no federal or Texas law requires employers to pay for accumulated but unused paid vacation. The ordinance proposed in Austin would have required employers to grant up to eight days or 64 hours of paid leave per year, while small businesses with 15 employees or fewer would have had to offer up to six days of paid leave. Employers should be aware of the potential consequences of not providing notice of sick leave rules to their employees. If an employee requests or uses accumulated sick time, or reports a violation or participates in an administrative proceeding related to PSL regulations, employers cannot transfer, demote, dismiss, suspend, reduce working hours, or directly threaten them.
When it comes to providing sick leave for their employees, employers should consider how and at what rate sick leave is earned and whether the company allows sick leave to be extended from one year to the next and whether it pays employees for unused sick leave when they leave the company. In conclusion, employers in Austin, Texas must be aware of the potential implications of providing notice of sick leave rules to their employees. While larger companies may not feel affected by proposed ordinances if they already offer paid sick leave as part of their standard benefits package, small businesses should pay special attention to developments in this area.