Attorney Blog, Human Resources

San Antonio City Council Revises and Approves Paid Sick Leave Implementation for December 1st, 2019

Attorney Harrison Oldham

The saga of Texas sick leave laws continues! The San Antonio, Texas City Council has approved revisions to the city’s sick leave ordinance, which is now scheduled take effect on December 1, 2019.

The ordinance was previously scheduled to become effective on August 1, 2019. However, the regulation was delayed pending a legal challenge less than two weeks before the ordinance’s scheduled effective date. On July 15, 2019, the Texas Attorney General and several business groups filed suit against the City, alleging that the paid sick leave ordinance was unconstitutional because it is preempted by the Texas Minimum Wage ActIn connection with the suit, the groups sought a temporary injunction to stop the ordinance from taking effect as scheduled.  In response, the parties entered into an order agreeing to stay the implementation of the law until December 1, 2019.

Now that the City has had some time to review, the revised ordinance includes the following updates:

  • Any individual who performs work for pay within the City of San Antonio for a covered employer is eligible to accrue sick leave unless otherwise exempted under the law. Under the original ordinance, eligibility was limited to individuals who perform at least 80 hours of work in a year.
    • Independent contractors, paid and unpaid interns, employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement, and employers subject to the Railway Labor Act are exempt from coverage under the law.
  • Employees who are typically based outside the City of San Antonio for more than 50% of their work hours in a year, but who perform work in the City on an occasional basis, are covered by the ordinance only if they perform more than 240 hours of work in San Antonio within a year.
  • A modified accrual schedule for sick and safe leave will apply across all businesses, regardless of size.  Specifically, employees will be eligible to accrue one hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year. The original ordinance would have required larger businesses to provide up to 64 hours of leave while smaller businesses would have been required to provide up to 48 hours of leave.
  • Sick leave begins to accrue from the first working day for new employees but employers may require that new employees wait up to 90 days before using any accrued time. Under the original ordinance, the waiting period for new employees was capped at 60 days and was only applicable if the employer could establish that the employee’s term of employment was at least one year.
  • The definition of a covered family member under the ordinance will now include an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, or different-sex or same-sex significant other. In addition, the concept of parenthood “is to be liberally construed without limitation as encompassing legal parents, foster parents, same-sex parent, step-parents, those serving in loco parentis, and other persons operating in caretaker roles.” Under the original ordinance, a covered family member included an 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.

Finally, while the ordinance is now slated to take effect on December 1, 2019, penalties will not be assessed until April 1, 2020 except in cases of retaliation against an employee.

About Harrison Oldham

Harrison grew up in Mansfield, Texas. He attended Texas A&M University for his bachelor’s degree, where he met his wonderful wife, Kelsey. After graduating magna cum laude from Texas A&M, he attended SMU Dedman School of Law, graduating with honors in 2012. Today, Harrison and his wife live in Dallas, Texas with their son, Teddy.

Since graduating from SMU Law, Harrison has worked exclusively in the field of business law. He has spent time in private practice and in-house, working with clients of every size; from single person startups to Fortune 250 companies. Today his practice focuses on serving the diverse needs of businesses and individuals throughout Texas. You can learn more about Harrison by visiting his website, at: http://lonestarbusinesslaw.com/.

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