Paid Sick Leave Trend Comes South to Austin, Texas

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

February 21, 2018

Austin, Texas, has enacted a new ordinance that will soon require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees.

Austin joins nine states and several other municipalities that have enacted paid sick leave laws in recent years. It is the first in the South to do so, establishing a beachhead for potential expansion of this trend into other liberal-leaning cities and towns in an otherwise-conservative region.

Under Austin's new ordinance, employees will earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours per year for employers with more than 15 employees and up to 48 hours per year for smaller employers. Employees can use this leave for absences caused by any of the following, for either themselves or for a family member:

  • Physical or mental illness or injury;
  • Preventative medical or health care;
  • A health condition; or
  • Seeking medical attention, seeking relocation, obtaining services of a victim services organization or participating in a legal or court-ordered action resulting from domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.

For most employers, the ordinance will take effect October 1, 2018. For employers with no more than five employees (excluding family members) at any time in the preceding 12 months, the ordinance will take effect October 1, 2020.

At least one state legislator has vowed to introduce a bill that would preempt Austin's ordinance. However, Texas' biennial legislature does not start its next session until January 2019, so the Austin ordinance will take effect before any preemption bill is passed.