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FAQs about the Austin paid sick leave law
Who is covered by the new law?
According to the Austin paid sick leave ordinance, an eligible employee is defined as "an individual who performs at least 80 hours of work for pay within the City of Austin in a calendar year for an employer, including work performed through the services of a temporary or employment agency." The ordinance further specifies that this law does not apply to individuals who are unpaid interns or independent contractors according to Title 40, Section 821.5 of the Texas Administrative Code.
What exactly does the law require?
Eligible employees must be allowed to accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked for the employer in the City of Austin, starting the first day of employment or the day the ordinance goes into effect (whichever comes first). The ordinance further stipulates that earned sick time should be granted in one-hour increments, not in increments of a fraction of an hour.
The amount of sick leave employers are required to provide is capped based on how many employees the company had in the preceding 12 months:
- Private employers with more than 15 employees must allow workers to accrue up to 64 hours of paid sick leave annually.
- Private employers with 15 or fewer employees must allow workers to accrue up to 48 hours of paid sick leave annually.*
*The law delays the implementation of the paid sick leave requirements for micro-businesses (those with 5 or fewer employers) until October 1, 2020.
In addition, the law requires employers to track and keep records of the amount of sick leave each eligible employee accrues and to provide those employees with information about how much leave they have accrued on a monthly basis, at a minimum. Employers are also required to include language about the ordinance's requirements in their employee handbooks/other sick leave policies as soon as the law goes into effect and conspicuously post information about the ordinance at their worksites once the city finalizes the required posting language.
What penalties do employers who fail to comply with the ordinance face?
Austin's Equal Employment Opportunity Opportunity and Fair Housing Office (EEO/FHO) is charged with enforcing the law and has the ability to assess civil penalties of up to $500 per violation.
This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.