Dallas Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law

June 25, 2019

Dallas employers will soon be obligated to provide paid sick leave to eligible employees. Under the city's new ordinance, businesses with more than five employees must adjust their policies by August 1, 2019, while employers with five or fewer employees (at any time in the preceding 12 months) must be compliant by August 1, 2021.

While similar laws faced legal challenges in Austin and San Antonio, the Dallas ordinance, at least so far, remains unchallenged in the courts. Businesses should familiarize themselves with the new law and make necessary changes to their policies and practices to ensure compliance.

Key Takeaways of the Paid Sick Leave Law

Eligible Employees
Employees eligible for paid sick leave are those who perform at least 80 hours of work for pay in a year within the City of Dallas (including through the services of a temporary employment agency). The ordinance does not apply to independent contractors.

Effective Date
For employers with more than five employees, the ordinance is effective August 1, 2019. For employers with five or fewer employees (at any time in the preceding 12 months), the ordinance is effective August 1, 2021.

Accrual
Eligible employees accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked for the employer in the City of Dallas, starting at the commencement of employment or the effective date of the ordinance, whichever is later. Paid sick time accrues in one-hour increments, unless the employer has a written policy establishing accrual in fraction-of-an-hour increments. Sick leave that is requested in excess of the employee’s accrued paid sick time need not be paid.

  • Accrual Cap For medium or large employers—those with more than 15 employees at any time in the preceding 12 months (excluding the employer’s family members)—there is a yearly accrual cap of 64 hours of paid sick leave, unless the employer chooses a higher limit. For small employers—those who are not a medium or large employer—the yearly accrual cap is 48 hours of paid sick leave, unless the employer chooses a higher limit.
  • Carry Over – All accrued, unused paid sick time is carried over to the following year, subject to the accrual cap. Alternatively, to avoid the administrative burden of accrual and carry over, employers can simply provide employees with at least the yearly cap of paid sick time at the beginning of the year.
  • Termination of Employment – The ordinance is silent on whether accrued, unused paid sick leave must be paid out to the employee upon separation of employment.

Employee Paid Sick Leave Requests
Eligible employees can request and use paid sick time for a work absence caused by: (1) the employee’s physical or mental illness, physical injury, preventative medical or health care or health condition; (2) the employee’s need to care for a family member’s physical or mental illness, physical injury, preventative medical or health care or health condition; or (3) the employee 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.

  • Family Member “Family member” includes an employee’s spouse, child, parent, blood-related individuals or any other individual whose close association to an employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.
     
  • When Employees Can Use Paid Sick Leave Generally, paid sick time is available for an employee to use as soon as it is accrued. However, employers may restrict an employee from using accrued paid sick time during the first 60 days of employment if the term of the employee’s employment is at least one year.

Employer Verification of Paid Sick Leave Requests
Employers may adopt reasonable verification procedures to establish that an employee’s request to use accrued paid sick time is in accordance with the ordinance in the event that an employee requests to use accrued paid sick time for more than three consecutive work days. However, the verification procedures cannot require the employee to disclose or explain the nature of the illness, injury, health condition, domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or other health need.

Pay Rate
Paid sick time must be paid in an amount equal to what the employee would have earned if the employee had worked the scheduled work time, exclusive of any overtime premium, tips or commissions, but no less than the state minimum wage.

Notice to Employees
At least on a monthly basis, employers must provide electronically or in writing to each employee a statement showing the amount of the employee’s accrued paid sick time. Further, any employee handbook provided to employees must include a section informing them about their rights and remedies under the ordinance as well as conspicuously display a sign in the workplace describing the requirements of the ordinance.

Moving forward, Dallas employers should understand how the law’s accrual and use requirements will affect their bottom line. And as the law applies to all city employers notwithstanding size, businesses need to prepare themselves by ensuring that their policies and materials comply with the mandates of the law.

For more information about this alert or if you have any questions or concerns, please contact Lee Szor at 214-231-5778 or [email protected] or any member of Fox Rothschild’s Labor & Employment Department.