I’m sure you heard that on February 16th Austin’s City Council passed a sick leave ordinance scheduled to go into effect on October 1st. We, like all the other Austin-based small businesses needed to know how this was going to impact us. This is what we found out:
- Businesses with more than 15 employees must grant an employee one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked.
- Businesses with 15 or fewer employees have to provide only 48 hours of paid leave, or six 8-hour days, per year.
- Businesses with five or fewer employees have until October, 2020 to comply.
- You are not required to provide more than 64 hours of earned sick time to an employee in a calendar year. All unused earned sick time up to 64 hours must be carried over to the following year.
- If you already provide PTO to an employee in an amount sufficient to meet the accrual, purpose, and usage requirements then no additional action is required.
- Earned sick time starts accruing when you hire an employee, or when the ordinance takes effect, whichever is later.
- Businesses can restrict usage of sick time for the first 60 days of employment
- You must reinstate accrued sick time for a separated employee who is rehired within 6 months.
- An employee may use earned sick time for the following reasons:
- The employee’s physical or mental illness or injury, preventative medical or health care, or health condition.
- The care of a family member’s physical or mental illness, preventative medical or health care, injury, or health condition.
- To seek medical attention or to participate in legal or court ordered action related to an incident of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking involving the employee or employee’s family member.
- You do not have to pay an employee if they are out sick and they do not have enough sick time accrued.
- You can not require an employee to find a replacement to cover the hours of earned sick time as a condition of using earned sick time.
- You must provide in writing to each employee the amount of earned sick time accrued and available on a monthly basis.
- There is up to a $500 for every violation of this ordinance.
Of course, there are already challenges to the ordinance (link here: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/02/16/legislators-challenge-new-austin-sick-leave-mandate/). If you’d like to check out the actual ordinance go here: http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincouncilforum/1F-20180215214216.pdf