NEW LAW – San Antonio Passes Local Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

On August 16, 2018, the San Antonio (Texas) City Council passed a new local paid sick leave ordinance.  The new law will go into effect in stages –

  • Large employers (more than 5 employees): Effective August 1, 2019
  • Small employers (5 or fewer employees): Effective August 1, 2021

Who is covered by the new San Antonio paid sick leave ordinance?

The new paid sick leave ordinance affects all employers who do business in the city of San Antonio.

What employees are eligible for paid sick leave?

All employees who perform “at least 80 hours of work for pay within the City of San Antonio, Texas in a year” are eligible for paid sick leave benefits.

How much paid sick leave must be provided?

Starting August 1, 2019 for larger employers (August 1, 2021 for small employers), eligible employees of San Antonio employers will start accruing paid sick leave.

Paid sick leave benefits will accrue at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked by the employee. For new employees, accrual begins on the first day of employment.

Employees must be allowed to accrue paid sick leave as follows:

  • 64 hours per year for employers with more than 15 employees
  • 48 hours per year for employers with 15 or fewer employees

Instead of tracking annual accrual, employers will be allowed to “frontload” an employee’s paid sick leave allotment on an annual basis (i.e. provide an employee with the full sick leave allotment at the start of the year).

When the accrual method is used, accrued but unused leave must be carried over to the following year.  If paid sick leave is frontloaded, then employers do not have to allow employees to carryover unused, accrued paid sick leave.

How much paid sick leave is an employee allowed to use in a year?

Employers must allow employees to use at least 8 days of paid sick leave in a year.

When are employees eligible to use paid sick leave?

The new sick leave law imposes a 60-calendar day waiting period before a newly hired employee can use paid sick leave benefits – BUT only if “the employer establishes that the employee’s term of employment is at least one year.”

What can paid sick leave be used for?

Under the new law, an employee will be able to use his/her paid sick leave benefits for the following purposes:

  • For an employee’s own “physical or mental illness or injury, preventative medical or health care or health condition”;
  • When an employee is needed to “care for a family member’s physical or mental illness, preventative medical or health care, injury or health condition”; or
  • For an employee’s or family member’s “need to seek medical attention, seek relocation, obtain services of a victim services organization or participate in legal or court ordered action related to an incident of victimization from domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking involving the employee or the employee’s family member.

Under the law, family member is defined as the employee’s

  • Spouse,
  • Child,
  • Parent, or
  • Any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

What are the employee’s notice requirements before using paid sick leave?

Employers “may adopt reasonable verification procedures to establish that an employee’s request for earned paid sick time meets the requirements of [the ordinance] if the employee requests to use earned paid sick time for more than three (3) consecutive work days.”

Sick leave must be provided “if the employee has available earned paid sick time and makes a timely request for the use of earned paid sick time before their scheduled work time.” However, “an employer may not prevent an employee from using earned paid sick time for an unforeseen qualified absence.”

What are the employer’s notice requirements regarding paid sick leave?

Employer must provide employees with notice of the amount of each employee’s available earned paid sick time on at least a monthly basis.  In addition, the employee handbook must contain a notice of employees’ rights and remedies under the paid sick leave ordinance.

What should San Antonio employers do to prepare for the new law?

The new paid sick leave ordinance goes into effect on August 1, 2019 for large employers. In order to prepare for this new law, employers should prepare paid sick leave policies and plan to include those policies in their 2019 Employee Handbook. In addition, employers with existing sick leave or PTO policies should check their policies to verify that they are compliant with this new law.

We will keep you posted about this law as it draws closer to the effective date.