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Developments in Texas law surrounding paid sick leave

For many workers in Texas and across the country, getting sick is simply not an option. Part-time hourly workers often are not given paid sick time, so a sick day acts as a serious blow to their paycheck. But what if they could earn sick time as they worked?

The idea of “earned” paid sick leave has been buzzing around Texas’s governing bodies for some time now. As the state legislature takes up the issue, we’re looking back at how these policies have developed in recent years.

City ordinances requiring paid sick leave

Last year, the cities of San Antonio and Austin both passed ordinances requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. Under Austin’s ordinance, workers had the opportunity to earn up to 64 hours of paid sick leave based on the hours they worked. San Antonio’s followed suit.

Employee advocates praised the city governments for granting time off to workers who needed it. But, many also expressed concern about the costs to small business owners. Lawmakers thought the cities had overstepped their power and took the issue to state courts.  

Paid leave ordinance in Austin struck down

Austin’s sick leave ordinance was ruled unconstitutional by the Third District Court of Appeals before it took effect. San Antonio’s paid leave ordinance took effect January 1, 2019, but its fate is still unknown. Moves by state legislators put San Antonio’s ordinance and other proposals like it in danger.

Bill to block city paid leave ordinances introduced in Texas legislature

Earlier this year, lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 15, which aims to prevent local governments from passing laws that go above and beyond state regulations. Proponents of the bill say that employment regulations are a state issue, and that consistency is key.

Looking ahead

As the fate of city paid leave ordinances hangs in the balance, employee advocates throughout Texas are working to protect the rights of workers. We’ll be keeping an eye on this issue as well as the potential impact for employees throughout the state.

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