You may have heard the news: in the wee hours of Friday, February 16, Austin City Council approved an ordinance requiring most employers to offer paid sick leave for both part-time and full-time employees beginning on October 1, 2018. But what does this mean for you?
The original proposed ordinance required employers of all sizes to allow employees to earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with a yearly cap of 64 hours of earned sick time. Like similar ordinances in peer cities, the original ordinance had clear support from several council members. As the voice for real estate in Central Texas, ABoR knew this was the time to speak up for REALTORS®, brokers, and small business owners.
ABoR’s Government Affairs team met with Austin City Council offices to communicate the needs of our members and the major challenges members would face if independent contractors were not explicitly excluded. Additionally, many REALTORS® employ a small number of real estate assistants and/or receptionists, and as a result, could be disproportionately impacted by the need to provide paid sick leave.
We saw some early success with the desire to include language that excludes employers from having to offer paid sick leave to independent contractors. Still, all businesses, regardless of size, would have been required to offer up to 64 hours of earned sick time per year.
ABoR continued to work with Council offices to reach a solution that would work for our members. As part of a compromise supported by ABoR, the ordinance adopted by Council created a lower threshold for smaller business. Under the final plan, businesses with 15 or fewer employees will have a yearly cap of 48 hours of earned sick time. The compromise also included a phase-in period to aid “micro-businesses” (employers with no more than 5 employees) with a later effective date of October 1, 2020.
Ultimately, Council adopted the ordinance with the compromises ABoR advocated for by a 9-2 margin. While the ordinance passed was not perfect, it includes many “wins” for REALTORS®, brokers, and small business owners thanks to ABoR’s advocacy.
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