What to Know About San Antonio’s New Sick Leave Ordinance

August is fast approaching, and with it comes the effective date for San Antonio’s new sick leave ordinance. Under Chapter 15, Article XI “Ordinance”, of the City Code of San Antonio, “Earned Paid Sick Time” has been added to govern the amount of paid sick leave an employer is required to provide their employees. Business owners are starting to ask questions: “What does this mean?” and “What changes need to be made?” These questions are of the utmost importance to employers in San Antonio.

Beginning August 1st, any employer located in the city of San Antonio with more than five (5) employees must provide paid sick leave. The Ordinance allows an employee to earn one (1) hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. These hours start accruing at commencement of employment for newly hired employees or the date of enactment for existing employees.  A new employee can be prohibited from using sick time during the first 60 days of employment so long as the employee’s term of employment is at least a year.  The Ordinance provides a yearly cap on sick time accrual of 64 hours per employee per year for employers with more than 15 employees, and 48 hours per employee per year for employers with 15 employees or less.  So long as an employer’s paid time off (“PTO”) policy complies with the Ordinance, PTO time can be utilized to meet the sick time pay requirements.

Employees can request earned paid sick time for an absence caused by the employee’s physical or mental illness or injury, the employee’s need to care for an immediate family member’s physical or mental illness, or an employee’s or family member’s need to seek medical attention due to domestic abuse, sexual abuse or stalking. Employers will be allowed to have reasonable verification procedures, such as a doctor’s note, provided the employee requests 3 consecutive days of earned paid sick time.

Employer’s policies and handbooks will need to be updated to reflect accrual and usage requirements, as well as notice requirements. Employers are not permitted to require the employee to arrange for a replacement to work on their scheduled time.

Employers must provide monthly notices to employees of their available amount of earned paid sick time. Additionally, employers should be aware of the penalties for violations of up to $500 per violation.  However, employers may be provided with a chance to voluntarily comply in order to forego any civil penalties assessed.

Employers with 5 employees or less will not be required to implement these policies until August 1, 2021.

A lawsuit has been filed with a hearing set for next week which could stop implementation.  Please let us know if you have any questions.