Update (July 30, 2019): A similar suit to stop paid sick leave in Dallas was filed.
Update (July 17, 2019): A conglomeration of business groups has filed a lawsuit against San Antonio, claiming the ordinance violates the state’s minimum wage act. The litigation seems likely to delay the city’s paid sick leave bill from going into effect.
It sure looks like paid sick leave laws in two major Texas cities will go into effect Aug. 1.
Three of the most prominent cities in the Lone Star State — Dallas, San Antonio and Austin — have passed paid sick leave laws in recent months. But while the Austin measure is tied up in the courts, employers in Dallas and San Antonio should prepare for the new laws in those cities.
The paid sick leave laws in Dallas and San Antonio are similar:
- Provide workers with an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked
- Apply to employees who work at least 80 hours in the city per year
- Go into effect Aug. 1 for employers with six or more employees
- Go into effect Aug. 1, 2021, for companies with five or fewer employees
- Employers with fewer than 16 employees must provide at least 48 hours of PSL per year
- Employers with 16 or more employees must provide at least 64 hours of PSL per year
- Agencies will begin enforcing the regulations next year
The ordinances do not apply to companies that have more generous leave policies. Refer to the San Antonio and Dallas city websites for further details.
Pushback on Paid Sick Leave in Texas
A Texas court of appeals in 2018 declared Austin’s paid sick leave rule unconstitutional, ruling the measure violated the state’s minimum wage law. That decision led many to wonder if similar challenges would happen following action by the Dallas and San Antonio city councils. Thus far, that hasn’t happened.
Still, the Austin paid sick leave ordinance is currently in the hands of the Texas Supreme Court, whose ruling could impact the Dallas and San Antonio PSL requirements. But that decision likely won’t come down until after Aug. 1, when the Dallas and San Antonio paid sick leave ordinances take effect.
Beyond the court challenge to paid sick leave in Austin, the Texas Legislature this summer considered a bill that would have prevented cities from enacting their own paid sick leave laws. However, the session ended without the legislation being passed.
Expansion of Paid Leave Laws
Despite the Texas two-step regarding paid sick leave, there has been a trend nationally toward implementing paid leave laws in their many forms.
Oregon even expanded protected leave for employees who miss work in connection with donating a body part. More broadly, Maine recently passed a unique paid leave law that allows workers to take time off for any reason, not simply for health-related issues.
At GovDocs, we’ve seen the growth in employment law-related legislation during the first six and a half months of the year. We’re currently tracking 2,189 total employment law-related bills, up from 443 at the outset of 2019. More than 2.5 percent of those are specifically related to paid sick leave. (The bulk, 16.5 percent, are related to minimum wage.)
These new laws, as well as proposed changes, highlight the need for HR professionals, compliance officers and payroll teams to keep an eye out for any new regulations that may impact employees.