Effective August 1, 2019, Dallas will require employers to provide paid sick leave to workers in the City of Dallas, following Austin and San Antonio, which also implemented similar paid sick leave laws. Dallas Ordinance No. 31181 (the “Ordinance”), passed on April 24, 2019, requires employers to provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked for most employees who work in the City of Dallas. Earned sick time accrues starting the commencement of employment or August 1, 2019, for an employer with more than five employees, or August 1, 2021, for employers with five or fewer employees. The yearly cap for paid sick time under the Ordinance is 64 hours per employee per year for medium or large employers (defined below), and 48 hours per employee per year for small employers. Importantly, all earned unused paid sick time up to the yearly cap must be carried over to the following year.
The bar for employees who are eligible is quite low. The Ordinance includes in the definition of employee “any individual who performs at least 80 hours of work for pay within the City of Dallas, Texas in a year for an employer, including work performed through the services of a temporary or employment agency.” This definition specifically excepts independent contractors.
Likewise, most employers who have employees in Dallas or are based in Dallas fall within the scope of complying with the Ordinance. Employers include “any person, company, corporation, firm, partnership, labor organization, non-profit organization, or association that pays an employee to perform work for an employer and exercise control over the employee’s wages, hours, and working conditions.” A medium or large employer is “an employer with more than 15 employees at any time in the preceding 12 months, excluding the employer’s family members.” The Ordinance does except the federal, state, and city governments, and any other agency that cannot be regulated by city ordinance.
The Ordinance also sets forth usage requirements for how the earned paid sick time may be used. Employees may request sick time for the employee’s or employee’s family member’s “physical or mental illness, physical injury, preventative medical or heath care, or health condition,” and the employee’s or their 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.” There are also guidelines for employer’s verification of reasons for leave, any restrictions on usage that may be placed, and notice requirements of available earned leave. Importantly, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who elect to use accrued paid sick leave.
Employers may face a fine for noncompliance with the Ordinance by the August 1, 2019 deadline. Each violation of a particular section of the Ordinance constitutes a separate offense, for which the fine may be up to $500. Penalties for noncompliance will begin to be assessed beginning April 1, 2020, with the exception of the retaliation prohibition, which is eligible to be penalized on the August 1, 2019 deadline.
Contact the attorneys at Canada Lewis & Associates PLLC to determine whether your leave policies are in compliance with the Ordinance.
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