July 1st, is a significant day for millions of workers who will begin enjoying the protections of recently enacted workplace leave laws around the country. For low-wage workers who currently do not have a single paid sick day, these laws will ensure they no longer have to worry that catching a cold or taking a sick child to the doctor could mean not making rent or even losing their job.
Yesterday, the San Antonio City Council voted 9-2 to pass a paid sick time ordinance, making it the second city in Texas—along with Austin—to guarantee workers this critical right. Under the law, workers in San Antonio will be able to earn paid sick time to use for personal or family health needs, or to address domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. San Antonio now joins more than 40 states and cities across the country in passing a paid sick time law. With the passage of San Antonio’s ordinance, workers in seven of the country’s eight most populous cities now have the legal right to earn paid sick time!
Earlier this summer, our partners in the Working Texans for Paid Sick Time coalition collected approximately 145,000 signatures to put paid sick time on the ballot in November. We applaud the San Antonio City Council for taking up the issue and passing the policy itself, and we congratulate the coalition in Texas on this significant victory. A Better Balance has worked closely with advocates and officials in Texas on this issue and will continue to provide legal support to our partners in Texas and across the country to build on these paid sick time wins.
San Antonio’s paid sick law will take effect for most businesses in January 2019 and become enforceable in August 2019; for employers with 5 or fewer employees, the law will take effect on August 1, 2021. Under the law, individuals who work for employers with more than 15 employees will be able to earn up to 64 hours of paid sick time per year, while individuals who work for smaller employers will be able to earn up to 48 hours of paid sick time per year.
Along with ten other cities and states, San Antonio defines “family member” broadly in its paid sick time law to include chosen family. This means that workers will have the right to use their paid sick time to care for loved ones even if they do not share a biological or legal relationship. Workers have a documented need for laws and policies that recognize family diversity, and we’re thrilled that more cities and states (like San Antonio) are defining family realistically and inclusively.
Despite the clear evidence that paid sick time laws work well for workers and employers, opponents are attempting to stop our momentum on this issue. Conservative business interests have challenged Austin’s paid sick time law in court and will now seek to stop San Antonio’s law as well. As we celebrate San Antonio’s win, A Better Balance will continue working closely with our partners in Texas and around the country to defend these laws and ensure they remain on the books.