On February 16, 2018, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that will require private companies with employees working in the City of Austin to provide between 48 and 64 hours per year of paid sick leave to employees. In addition to providing leave, employees must have written notice of their paid sick leave rights and receive monthly statements informing them of the time they have remaining.
Employers must grant an employee one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked in the City of Austin up to an annual cap. The annual cap depends on the size of the employer. Broadly stated, employers with 16 or more employees in Austin are required to provide at least 64 hours of earned sick time. Employers with 15 or fewer employees are required to provide 48 hours of earned sick time.
Please keep in mind that the statute contains its own definition of who is considered an employee and how sick time is accrued and used. There are exceptions from the definition of who would be counted as an employee, such as family members employed in the business. Additionally, there are very specific rules on how sick time is earned and a more expansive definition for what it can be used.
The new ordinance calls for rules that allow employers to maintain a reasonable administration of their time off policy. However, an employer may not require an employee to find a replacement to cover the hours as a condition for using paid sick time.
Compliance Date for City of Austin Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
The new ordinance goes into effect October 1, 2018. An employer will not be fined for failure to comply until May 2019. Employers with five or fewer employees in the City of Austin at any time in the last 12 months have until October 1, 2020, to comply.
What You Should Do Now to Prepare for the City of Austin Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
We are encouraging all employers with Austin based employees to check your employee handbook and policies. Make sure you have a paid time off or sick leave policy and that it complies with the new ordinance. Changes may not be required if your current paid time off benefits exceed the requirements of the new ordinance. If you do not currently have a paid time off or sick leave policy and you have six or more employees who work part time or full time in the City of Austin, you should adopt a written policy. Pay close attention to the definition of employee in the new ordinance, as some individuals may be excluded.
In any event, you still need to update your handbook, policy, employee notices, and payroll reporting to include specific mention of the new ordinance. Employers will also be required to post signs in English and Spanish describing the requirements of the new ordinance. Our expectation is that the city will provide a model form for the sign. In addition to the handbook and sign, employers are required to provide electronically or in writing to each employee a statement showing the amount of the employee’s available earned sick time on no less than a monthly basis.
This is only a summary of the ordinance. We encourage you to click here to review the ordinance.