The cities of Dallas and San Antonio, Texas have enacted ordinances that will require employers to provide paid sick leave to covered employees.
The ordinances take effect on August 1, 2019 for employers with six or more employees. For employers with 5 or fewer employees at any time in the preceding 12 months, the ordinances will take effect August 1, 2021.
Update: On July 15, business groups filed a lawsuit attempting to block the San Antonio ordinance. The city and the business groups have since agreed to delay the effective date until December 1, 2019 while the lawsuit is litigated. Depending on the outcome of future legal action, this could change. We will continue to monitor and report updates on the status of the law.
The Dallas and San Antonio ordinances cover virtually all private employers with employees working in the respective city.
In general, employees who work at least 80 hours during the calendar year within the respective city are entitled to accrue paid sick leave under the city's ordinance. The paid sick leave requirements apply to regular and temporary employees, but do not apply to unpaid interns or independent contractors.
Accruals, Frontloading, and Carryover:
To provide covered employees with the appropriate amount of leave each year, employers can use either the accrual or frontloading method.
Employees must accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked in the city. Employees begin accruing paid sick leave on the applicable effective date or their date of hire, whichever is later. Employers may cap accrual of paid sick leave according to the following rules:
- Employers with more than 15 employees (excluding family members) at any time in the preceding 12 months may cap accrual at 64 hours.
- Employers with 15 or fewer employees (excluding family members) at any time in the preceding 12 months may cap accrual at 48 hours.
Employers must generally allow employees to carryover unused leave to the following year, up to the applicable annual cap.
Employers may frontload the applicable annual cap on leave at the beginning of the year. Employers that do so are not required to allow carryover of unused leave to the following year.
Employees may use leave as it accrues. However, if the employer establishes that the employee will be employed for at least one year, the employer may restrict use until employees have been employed with the company for at least 60 days. The law does not require an employer to allow an employee to use earned paid sick leave on more than eight days in a year.
Employers cannot require that an employee find a replacement to cover their shift as a condition to use accrued sick leave. Employers can allow employees to voluntarily trade shifts, donate accrued time to another employee, or create an incentive program encouraging employees to trade shifts.
Reasons for Leave:
Employees may use sick leave for the following reasons:
- Their own or a family member's mental or physical illness, injury* or health condition, or for preventive care;
- To seek medical attention, relocation, legal or other services needed for the employee or their family member to recover from domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking.
"Family member" includes an employee's child, parent, spouse, or any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.
* The Dallas ordinance differs from the San Antonio ordinance in that it doesn't expressly address mental injuries.
Pay During Leave:
During leave, employees are entitled to the same rate of pay that they normally earn, exclusive of overtime premiums, tips, or commissions, but no less than the state minimum wage.
Employee Notice and Verification:
Employers must provide paid sick leave if the employee has available earned paid sick leave and makes a timely request before their scheduled work time. However, employers cannot prevent employees from using accrued sick time for a qualifying absence if the need for leave is not foreseeable.
For leave requests lasting more than three consecutive work days, employers may require reasonable documentation to establish that the absence is for a covered reason.
Employers are generally required to post a notice of employee rights in English and other languages (as determined by the city) in a conspicuous area of the workplace once the city makes such signage available publicly on its website. Employers that provide employees with a company handbook must include a policy with information on employee rights under the ordinance.
Statements and Recordkeeping:
At least monthly, employers must provide employees with a written or electronic statement of their available sick leave amount. Additionally, employers must keep records of the amount of sick leave accrued and used by each covered employee.
Relationship to Existing PTO Policies:
The ordinance does not require an employer who offers paid time off (PTO) to an employee under conditions that meet the accrual, purpose, and usage requirements of the law to provide additional earned sick time to the employee.
The law prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees for exercising their rights under the ordinance.
Employers with employees working in Dallas or San Antonio should review their policies, forms, practices, and supervisor training to ensure compliance with their respective city's new ordinance. There are efforts to block these ordinances, so employers should watch for potential developments.