When a worker in Texas does not have paid sick leave, coming down with an illness or having a loved one in need of medical care can pose a significant problem. The employee may be unable to come to work, but without being paid the employee could find themselves in a serious financial situation. However, some cities in Texas have taken steps to change this.

The cities of San Antonio and Austin passed ordinances stating that those who are employed by a private business must be given a specified amount of paid sick leave. However, legislation at the state level aimed to block these ordinances, claiming that they have resulted in “patchwork regulations” wherein cities within miles of each other could have vastly different rules regarding paid sick leave. However, bills that would have met these goals will not be heard on the House floor, essentially rendering them “dead.” That being said, the constitutionality of these ordinances may still be challenged in court.

This is significant as, as of right now under Texas state law and federal employment law, there is no requirement that employers provide workers with paid sick leave. Most employers do have to comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), however. The Act permits a worker to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave either for him or herself or to care for an immediate family member. Workers are eligible to take leave under FMLA if they’ve been with their employer for 12 months or more and within that timeframe worked at least 1,250 hours. FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more workers within 75 miles.

It remains to be seen how these ordinances will hold up in court and whether bills aiming to block them will be introduced in the next legislative session. However, these ordinances are good news for those fortunate enough to live in the cities that have them. Those who want further information on these types of ordinances are encouraged to seek legal advice on the matter.