Austin Passes Paid Sick Leave Mandate Under Threat of State Reversal

February 23, 2018

Austin has become the first city in Texas (and in the South) to require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees despite threats by state legislators to reverse the ordinance next year.  Effective October 1, 2018, all employers with more than 15 employees must provide employees who work at least 80 hours in Austin in a calendar year with accrued paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours annually.  The leave may be used for the employee’s or a family member’s illness, injury, health condition or preventive care, or as necessary to deal with domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking involving the employee or a family member.  While unused sick leave is carried over to the following year, an employer may cap annual sick leave used at 8 days.  Although Austin joins more than 40 other cities and states that have enacted paid leave laws, state representatives have promised to reverse the city ordinance as they have with other city measures in the past when the state legislature convenes in January 2019.  In 2017, the Texas legislature overturned two Austin ordinances that imposed onerous rules on ride-hailing companies and short-term rental properties.