Austin, TX: Paid Sick Leave Begins October 1, 2018, Barring Opposition from the Legislature


All Employers of Austin, TX Employees


October 1, 2018


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(888) 378-2456

On February 16, 2018, the Austin City Council voted to approve mandatory paid sick leave.  The ordinance is pending the mayor’s signature, and will require employers to provide protected time off in line with states like California, Oregon, or recently, Rhode Island—assuming Texas lawmakers do not nip the ordinance in the bud.  State Representative Paul Workman and State Senator Donna Campbell have expressed opposition to the ordinance and publicly promised to overturn it. Below, we highlight key provisions from the draft paid sick leave (“PSL”) ordinance.

  1. Effective Date:
    1. Employers of 5+ Employees: October 1, 2018
    2. Employers of 1-4 Employees: October 1, 2020
  2. Eligibility:
    1. Covered Employee: Individuals who complete at least 80 hours of work within Austin in a calendar year.
    2. Employers: All private employers.
    3. Exemptions: Independent contractors, unpaid interns, public employees, and employees covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement are exempt from this requirement.
  3. Usage: Employees working for a term of at least one year or longer can begin using PSL after 60 days of employment.  PSL may be used as it is accrued.
  4. Leave Amounts:
    1. Rate: One hour of PSL per 30 hours worked.  PSL cannot be accrued in increments smaller than one hour.
    2. Cap: Accrual cap is determined by employee headcount within the preceding 12 months, excluding family members:
      1. 1-14 employees: 48 hours per year
      2. 15+ employees: 64 hours per year
    3. Carryover: Employees can carry over any accrued, unused PSL up to the annual cap.  If PSL is frontloaded, no carryover is required.
    4. Frontload: Employers may choose to frontload PSL at the beginning of the year.
    5. Rehire: Employees rehired within six months of employment must be instated to their previously accrued and unused leave balance.  Successor employers must allow employees to use accrued and unused leave balances.
  5. Recordkeeping and Notice Requirements:
    1. Workplace Posting: Employers must display a workplace posting issued by the city of Austin in a conspicuous location in English and Spanish.  If the employer provides an employee handbook, the handbook must also notify employees of their rights and remedies under the ordinance.
    2. Monthly Notice: Employers must provide a monthly statement showing employees’ available sick leave balance once per month, electronically or in writing.
    3. Recordkeeping: Records regarding PSL must be kept in accordance with 29 C.F.R. § 516(a).
  6. Employee’s Notice: Employees must provide notice of PSL usage before their scheduled work hours, unless the need for leave is unforeseeable.  Certification can be required after three consecutive days of absence for unforeseeable use of PSL.

Employers who already offer a paid leave benefit (e.g., vacation or PTO) that employees may use for the same purposes as PSL do not need to provide separate paid sick time.

Action Items

  1. Review the draft ordinance here.
  2. Prepare for implementation of the new PSL requirements, including having employee handbooks, policies, and payroll practices updated.
  3. Have managers trained on PSL use and notice requirements.
  4. Look for updates in the event the Texas legislature passes an anti-preemption bill.
  5. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2018 ManagEase

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