State lawmakers have already declared their intention to repeal an ordinance passed in Austin on Friday, which would have mandated paid sick leave for private employees. Several House and Senate legislators have announced that they will support legislation to repeal the ordinance in the next session. This article provides details about the new ordinance, as well as answers to some frequently asked questions about the policy. Employees are allowed to transfer all of their earned and unused paid sick leave (PSL) to the following year. However, employers who choose to grant a lump sum of the maximum amount of PSL at the beginning of a year are not required to do so.
Additionally, employees who are rehired by the same employer within six months must have their previous earned sick time restored. The ordinance also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request or use accumulated sick time, or who report a violation or participate in an administrative proceeding related to PSL regulations. This includes transferring, demoting, dismissing, suspending, reducing working hours, or directly threatening any of these measures. By becoming the first city in southern states to pass a paid sick leave law, Austin joins other cities in the country that already have such an ordinance. However, it is possible that the ordinance may be challenged legislatively or in court and delayed or even repealed. Over the years, some localities have passed paid sick leave laws, including three major cities: Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. The Texas Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court's ruling that Austin's paid sick leave ordinance is unconstitutional because it conflicts with the Texas Minimum Wage Act.
The ordinance would have required most private employers to allow workers to accumulate 64 hours of paid sick leave a year. San Antonio and Dallas have also passed paid sick leave ordinances, although San Antonio's never went into effect amid a similar legal challenge. On Friday morning, the Austin City Council approved a new rule requiring businesses in the city to offer paid sick leave to their employees. The rule would have allowed employees to accumulate up to 64 hours, or eight days, of paid sick leave per year. However, the Texas Legislature is already taking steps to override the ordinance. In the meantime, employers should review the compliance requirements set out in the new ordinance, including any new reporting and record-keeping obligations.
It is important for employers to understand their rights and responsibilities under this new law.