The San Antonio City Council is set to vote next week on whether the signatures collected on a petition to initiate an Earned Paid Sick Time Ordinance are valid. A grassroots coalition of activists, called Working Texans for Paid Sick Time, collected 144,000 signatures to amend Chapter 15 of the City of San Antonio Health Code and provide paid sick time to employees working in the City of San Antonio.  The coalition needed to collect 75,000 signatures.

If approved, the City Council must then decide by their August 16, meeting on one of two options: to put the item on the November 6 ballot along with the three ill-conceived charter amendments being pushed by the San Antonio Fire Union, or take it up as an ordinance during the meeting.  Should City Council choose to pass an ordinance on August 16, it must read exactly as written on the petition.

The proposed ordinance would require that employees of any business in San Antonio earn an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work. Those working for businesses with 15 or fewer employees could accrue a minimum of 48 hours, while those working for larger businesses could accrue 60 hours. If approved, the ordinance would take effect August 1, 2019.  There would be delayed implementation for very small employers, no more than five employees, making the effective date August 1, 2021.

If passed, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Director will be authorized to carry-out and enforce the provision of the proposed article, to educate employers and employees about the article, to render interpretations, and to adopt policies and procedures in order to clarify and administer the application of the article provision. Metro Health will be required to publish an annual report. City Council would have to allocate funding in the city’s annual budget to support such enforcement. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to Mayor Nirenberg on July 9, informing him that “no matter the council’s decision or the result of any ballot initiative, Texas law pre-empts a municipal paid sick leave ordinance.” Governor Abbott has been vocal in his opposition to mandating earned paid sick time when the Austin City Council passed a similar ordinance earlier this year. Senator Donna Campbell (District 25) has also expressed her deep concern about this issue, leading us to believe earned paid sick time will surely be brought forward in the Texas 86thLegislative Session.

Count on your Chamber to continue to track this issue closely. For more information about the proposed earned paid sick time ordinance, contact Stephanie Reyes, Vice President of Public Policy.

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