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Dallas City Council Votes To Require Employers To Offer Paid Sick Leave

Callie Richmond
Texas Tribune
Downtown Dallas in March 2018.

Amid a debate in the Texas Capitol over whether such rules should be banned statewide, the Dallas City Council on Wednesday passed a new ordinance requiring employers in the city to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

The ordinance is similar to ones city leaders in both San Antonio and Austin put in place, though Austin’s ordinance is currently on hold after an appeals court said it was unconstitutional. The rule, which was approved by the Dallas City Council in a 10-4 vote, requires one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours an employee works. Workers would be able to accrue up to 64 hours of paid sick leave each year, WFAA-TV previously reported.

For employers with fewer than 15 workers, the amount would be capped at 48 hours or 6 paid sick days, WFAA reported.

Advocates for implementing such ordinances say sick leave proposals are beneficial for workers and public health, and the audience at the Dallas meeting roared with approval when the ordinance passed.

But members of the business community have argued that it's not a city's job to set private companies’ employment policies.

Even before Dallas City Council members voted Wednesday, the National Federation of Independent Businesses said in a statement that it was surprised the city was considering such an ordinance while the issue is pending in both the courts and the state Capitol.

“When cities and counties enact their own rules that go beyond what the state already requires, it creates a nightmare for small businesses with mobile employees or operations in multiple jurisdictions,” said Annie Spilman, the state director for the group. “It can also put small businesses at a real competitive disadvantage if their competitors down the road don’t have the same costly regulatory burdens.”

A bill by state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, that would prevent cities from mandating that employers offer paid sick leave to their staffs was approved by the Senate earlier this month. Three other measures by Creighton, including one that would preempt local rules that disallow employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history, have also passed out of the Texas Senate.

The legislation has stalled in the House so far.

Still, polling suggests requiring paid sick leave for employee is popular with a majority of Republican and Democratic voters. According to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, 71 percent of Texas voters support policies requiring sick leave, including 56 percent of Republicans.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Alex Samuels is a reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune and a journalism senior at The University of Texas at Austin. She came to the Tribune in fall 2016 as a newsletters fellow, writing the daily Brief and contributing to the water, education and health newsletters. Alex previously worked for USA Today College as both a collegiate correspondent and their first-ever breaking news correspondent. She has also worked for the Daily Dot where she covered politics, race, and social issues.