The Austin City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday, February 15 on a proposed city ordinance which would require all private businesses in the city to offer employees at least 8 paid sick days (or 64 sick leave hours) annually.

Under the proposed ordinance, employees would accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with the ability to start using the sick leave as soon as it is earned.  If passed, eligible workers would be able to use sick time if they are hurt or ill, need to care for a family member who is injured or sick, require medical attention or have a doctor’s appointment for preventative care, among other things.  If an employee does not utilize all earned sick leave during the applicable year, any accrued, unused leave may be “rolled over” to the next year.

In connection with such requests for sick leave, employers would be permitted to ask for reasonable verification of the reason for the employee’s leave if a worker takes more than 3 paid sick days consecutively.  Additionally, employers could attribute any type of paid leave (e.g. paid time off or vacation days) toward the 8 paid sick days. Therefore, if any employer already offers its employees 8 paid vacation days, the ordinance would not require it offer any additional paid sick days.

The ordinance would also require Austin employers to post signage advising employees of their right to paid sick leave and would prohibit any retaliatory action against an employee for requesting or using paid sick leave.

There is currently no Texas state law which requires employers to provide paid sick time to employees.  The proposed Austin ordinance is similar to what other states and municipalities, such as Arizona, Connecticut, New York City, and San Francisco, have recently enacted.  However, the proposal has become a source of controversy with some calling for exemptions for small businesses and other lawmakers vowing to preempt any local ordinance with a state-wide law.

A copy of the proposed ordinance can be found here.