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Austin City Council Approves Texas’ First Earned Sick Leave Ordinance

Published by and on February 22, 2018

The Austin City Council approved Texas’ first paid sick leave ordinance.

Early in the morning on February 16, the Austin City Council approved Texas’ first paid sick leave ordinance. Under the ordinance, employees in Austin earn paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every thirty hours worked. Employers with more than fifteen employees must allow their employees to accrue up to 64 hours of paid sick leave, while employers with fifteen or less employees must allow up to 48 hours of paid sick leave. Employees must be allowed to carry over up to the yearly cap at the end of the year. Employers with more beneficial PTO policies already in effect are not required to also provide paid sick leave.

Employees may use paid sick leave for the following reasons:

  1. the employee’s physical or mental illness or injury, preventative medical or health care, or health condition; or
  2. the employee’s need to care for a family member’s physical or mental illness, preventative medical or health care, injury, or health condition; or
  3. the employee’s need to seek medical attention, seek relocation, obtain services of a victim services organization, or to participate in legal or court ordered action related to an incident of victimization from domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking involving the employee or employee’s family member.

Provided Mayor Adler signs off, the Ordinance takes effect on October 1, 2018, except that those employers with less than five employees will have until October 2020 to comply. Businesses with employees in California are already familiar with paid sick leave, but should be aware that the Austin law actually has a higher accrual cap than the California law (64 hours vs. 48 hours). Accordingly, all businesses with employees in Austin are urged to review their paid time off policies to ensure they are in compliance with the Ordinance and make revisions as appropriate.

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