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Texas Cities Enact Local Legislation for Sick Leave, But Future Remains Uncertain

Background

Until recently, employers in Texas were not required to provide employees paid sick leave. However, starting in 2018, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio began enacting local legislation that would require employers to provide 6-8 paid sick days to employees located in those cities.  

The ordinance enacted by the City of Austin quickly became embroiled in litigation when several business associations filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the city’s ordinance from taking effect. While City of Austin’s ordinance was making its way through the courts, Dallas and San Antonio enacted substantially similar ordinances.  Although the ordinances in Dallas and San Antonio were scheduled to take effect in August 2019, the Cities of Dallas and San Antonio agreed to delay the enforcement of their respective ordinances until April 1, 2020.

The following chart provides a general overview of the requirements of the paid sick leave ordinances enacted on Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio.  The following chart is not intended to be an exhaustive list of any applicable requirements.  For more information regarding additional requirements or other questions, please seek legal advice. 



Challenges to the Paid Sick Leave Ordinances

The 3 cities have faced legal challenges to their respective ordinances. The City of Austin’s ordinance has not taken effect, pending a decision regarding its constitutionality from the Texas Supreme Court. Governor Gregg Abbott has publicly denounced paid sick leave ordinances. Additionally, during the most recent Texas Legislative Session (which ended in May 2019), several lawmakers introduced bills that would prohibit municipalities (such as Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio) from passing ordinances that would require employers to provide paid sick leave. However, the legislative session ended without any of the proposed bills becoming law. The next legislative session begins January 2021, and a decision from the Texas Supreme Court will likely be the next step in determining the future of paid sick leave ordinances in Texas.

What to Expect

As discussed above, the future of the paid sick ordinances in Texas remains uncertain while employers and employees await a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court. In the meantime, employers should review their existing leave policies to determine whether the company currently provides more generous paid leave than provided under any applicable ordinance to determine what changes (if any) may be necessary to the Company’s leave policies. Additionally, employers should review their current timekeeping processes to determine whether it has the ability to track the number of hours worked and to identify the city in which each employee works in order to accurately determine whether an employee has worked the required number of hours to potentially by covered under an applicable ordinance.  

DISCLAIMER:  The information in this article is based on general information and assumptions. The information is not intended as legal advice to any particular person or entity, and may not be applicable in all situations. The information should not be acted upon without specific legal advice from your own counsel based on particular situations.