Barring legal action and an injunction, employers that have an employee performing at least 80 hours per year in San Antonio should be prepared to comply with City’s new paid sick leave ordinance beginning on August 1, 2019. Here are the highlights of the law:
- Requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide 1 hour of paid sick leave accrual for every 30 hours worked up to 64 hours. Employers with less than 15 employees must provide accrual for up to 48 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with no more than five employees have until August 1, 2021 to comply with the law.
- Accruals start on commencement of employment but employers can preclude use until employee has worked at least 60 days if the employer establishes that the employee’s term of employment is at least one year.
- Employees can use the paid leave for the employee’s physical or mental illness, physical injury, preventative or health care or health condition; the employee’s need to care for their family member’s physical or mental illness, physical injury, preventative medical or health care or health condition; or the family members 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.
- Covered leave is paid out at what employee would have earned if employee had worked scheduled work time, exclusive of any overtime, premium, tips or commission, but no less than the state minimum wage.
- Employers may adopt reasonable verification procedures to confirm the employee’s request for earned sick time meets the requirements of this section if the employee request to use earned paid sick time for more than three consecutive work days. Employers may not adopt verification procedures that would require an employee to explain the nature of the domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking, illness, injury, health condition or other health need when making the request for earned paid sick time.
- Accrued but unused paid sick leave rolls over to the following calendar year unless the employer provides employees with 64 or more hours at the beginning of each calendar year.
- Employers must provide employees at least monthly with written or electronic statement showing employees’ available, earned paid sick time.
- Employer handbooks must include a notice of employee rights and remedies under the statute in the handbook.
- If the Director makes signage available on its website, Employers must post signs describing the requirements of the chapter in conspicuous places in English and other languages determined by the Director.
- Employers using something other than a calendar year for sick pay accrual must notify employees in writing of the policy at the commencement of employment or its effective date –whichever is later.
- Records must be kept for same period of times as payroll records under the FLSA regulations –(i.e., three years)
- Employers may not require employees to find replacements to work the employee’s shift but the ordinance does not prohibit an employer from allowing an employee to voluntarily exchange hours or voluntarily trade shifts with another employee or prohibit an employer from establishing incentives for employees to voluntarily exchange hours or voluntarily trade shifts. The law also does not prohibit employee donation programs to donate available earned paid sick time to another employee.
- The law prohibits retaliation against employees for requesting of using earned paid sick time.
- Complaints are investigated by the Director who is required to commence a prompt and full investigation to determine if there is sufficient cause to believe a violation has occurred. Complaints must be filed within two years of the date of the violation. The Director has the authority to issue subpoenas in the course of the investigation.
- Violations may result in a civil fine up to $500. No penalties will be assessed until after April 1, 2020 except for retaliation. Employer may appeal any civil penalty assessed under the chapter.
- The law does not create a private right of action nor establish a criminal offense.
- There is no requirement accrued but unused sick pay be paid on termination of employment. However, if an employee is rehired in 6 months or less, the employer must grant the employee’s prior sick leave balance.
Employers that have employees who perform 80 hours of work in the City of San Antonio should begin to make preparations for the effective date of the ordinance.