In this guide, we cover the legal requirements for employers in Austin, Texas. In February, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that mandates employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. This applies to all employers whose employees work in Austin, and similar actions are expected to be taken in other large cities in Texas. Employees are eligible for paid sick leave if they work 80 hours or more per year in Dallas or San Antonio.
It is important to note that independent contractors are not required to receive paid sick leave, but employers must ensure that their workers are properly classified as employees or independent contractors before exempting them from coverage. In some states, employers are obligated to pay employees for this time off, while in others it is unpaid time off. Paid sick leave can also be used when the employee or a family member needs medical care, relocation services, assistance from a victim service organization, or participation in legal or judicial action related to an incident of victimization due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or harassment involving the employee or a family member of the employee. Texas does not have any state laws that require private companies to offer paid sick leave.
However, employers in Dallas and San Antonio are now mandated to provide their workers with paid sick leave benefits. These new city ordinances will take effect soon. If you make 64 hours of paid sick leave available to your employees at the beginning of the year (instead of accumulating 1 hour for every 30 hours worked), you don't need to allow employees to extend it to the following year. The PTO is usually part of a company's employee leave policy and must be clearly defined by the human resources team and included in each employee's employment contract or agreement.
Ordinances generally require that sick leave be accrued over a consecutive 12-month period, as determined by you. The larger a company is, the more likely it is to offer a standard number of workdays per year when a new employee starts working, “accumulated by accumulating workdays (or number of hours worked) and approved at the employee's request in accordance with the leave policy. If you rehire an employee within 6 months of your dismissal, you must keep the balance of paid sick leave you had before the termination. In both Dallas and San Antonio, employees can use paid sick leave for various purposes such as physical or mental illness, physical injury, preventive medical or health care, or health problems for the employee or their family members.
Dallas and San Antonio employers should evaluate their leave policies and procedures in light of these new requirements. Retaliation against employees who request or use paid and earned sick time, report a violation of the ordinances, or participate in any investigation or proceeding related to the ordinances is prohibited. This means that if an employee or family member suffers a mental injury without suffering a mental illness (such as a concussion), that leave may be covered in San Antonio but not in Dallas. Regardless of whether the employee decides to do so or is required to take free leave during their FMLA leave, the leave is still protected by the FMLA so continued medical coverage and the guarantee of employment at the end of the leave apply.
All employees who perform 80 hours or more of paid work in Dallas or San Antonio are entitled to paid sick leave benefits. Employers should be aware of these legal requirements and ensure that they are providing their employees with adequate paid sick leave.