Austin Mandates Paid Sick Leave


Austin is bucking the rest of Texas again. Weeks after leaders in the Texas Capital voted to reject business with any contractors working on President Trump's border wall, Austin is now the first city in Texas to mandate sick leave for private companies. The city council voted 9-2 last week to require paid sick leave for all non-governmental employees. Under the policy, businesses are required to provide up to eight full paid days of sick time per year, but smaller businesses (those with 15 or fewer employees) only have to cover up to six paid days per year.

The issue drew strong and passionate debate, with more than 200 people showing up to testify on it, most being in favor. Among those supporting the ordinance was Jose Garza, executive director of the Workers Defense Project. "You have become the first city in the South to ensure that working people have the right to take a day off when they get sick," he told the council. "Your courage could start a conversation across this state about what kind of Texas we want to be."

But not everyone was so gung-ho on the plan. Council member Ellen Troxclair was one of the "no" votes. She particularly expressed concerns about the impact of the ordinance on small businesses. "The large businesses that are able to provide those great benefits are able to do that because they started as small businesses, and they were able to make a profit," she said at the hearing. "The rate of failure for small businesses is really significant...more than half of small businesses that are ever started end up failing." Troxclair tried to add an amendment to exempt all businesses with 15 or fewer employers, but it failed.


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