San Antonio's Sick Leave Ordinance - New Policies Set to Unfold This Summer

On August 16, 2018, the San Antonio City Council voted 9-2 to approve a new sick leave ordinance.  This ordinance creates new requirements for businesses operating within San Antonio city limits. This post will highlight some of the main requirements under this new law. Employers should seek counsel with a knowledgeable employment law attorney for further guidance on their compliance obligations.  

Private Employers in San Antonio must provide sick leave

Sick leave is paid time off that employers provide to their employees. This time off is earned by putting in hours at work. Traditionally, employers opt into this practice, however the new sick leave ordinance mandates that San Antonio employers must provide sick leave to all full- and part-time employees. Employees accrue sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. The law also specifies details surrounding independent contractors, unpaid interns, and employees with Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA’s). Other requirements vary slightly depending on the size of the business.

Employees can use sick leave under several circumstances

Sick leave allows employees to miss work to seek medical care for physical or mental ailments.  Employees can use accrued sick time to tend to themselves, a family member, or even a close friend the employee considers family. Employees may also use leave to seek preventative medical care. For example, a standard wellness checkup at the doctor is an acceptable use of sick leave.

Employers are restricted in several additional ways

Employers cannot request a doctor’s note from an employee unless they miss three or more consecutive days of work. Employers may not request information regarding the specific nature of the illness, injury, or health condition. While the ordinance does ask that employees give sufficient notice before taking leave, the ordinance prohibits the employer from denying leave even in cases where the employee fails to give advance notice.

The San Antonio Sick Leave Ordinance is set to go into effect August 1st, 2019. Most employers will be impacted immediately. The ordinance allows additional time for employers with five or fewer employees to update their sick leave policies and procedures. San Antonio employers should speak with an employment law attorney to be sure they are in compliance with this new language.