San Antonio City Council passes changes to earned paid sick leave ordinance

Ordinance set to take into effect Dec. 1

After months of controversy and debate, the San Antonio City Council on Thursday voted 8-3 to pass the Earned Paid Sick Leave ordinance.

SAN ANTONIO – After months of controversy and debate, the San Antonio City Council on Thursday voted 8-3 to pass amendments to the Paid Sick Leave ordinance, now named the Sick and Safe Leave ordinance.

The ordinance, which is scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, requires that local businesses allow workers to accrue at least 56 hours of paid sick leave per year.

An employee is defined as "an individual who performs work for pay within the San Antonio city limits including temporary, seasonal, part-time and full-time employees. Employees who work more than 50 percent of their time outside of San Antonio are covered under this ordinance if they work at least 240 hours within San Antonio city limits during the course of a year," according to a memo released by the city.

City Council members Rebecca Viagran, Manny Pelaez and Clayton H. Perry voted against the changes to the ordinance.

RELATED: Labor organizers interrupt San Antonio City Council in protest of paid sick leave delay

The ordinance was amended by the City Council before the final vote to exempt unpaid interns from paid sick leave.

Earlier this year, a coalition of business groups filed a lawsuit against the city that delayed the ordinance from going into effect in August. 

RELATED: Business groups sue San Antonio to end paid sick leave ordinance

While the ordinance is set to take into effect Dec. 1, it is still being challenged in court. Opponents say it is a burden on employers that violates the state's minimum wage law.

The city will host information sessions for business owners on the following dates:

  • Oct. 16:  Phil Hardberger Park Urban Ecology Center from 1-3 p.m.
  • Nov. 4:  Central Library from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 7:  South Side Lions Senior Center from 4- 6 p.m.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg released the following statement:

"The Paid Sick Leave petitioners, commissioners, Council ad hoc committee members, public meetings and online survey have produced refinements to an ordinance that deliver a benefit that will vastly improve the health of our community.

All parties came to the table, we listened to the community, and we've arrived at revisions that will ensure every San Antonio working family has some peace of mind.

We restored protections for labor unions, enacted a uniform eligibility period for all businesses, provided for a more reasonable complaint period, and ensured that this ordinance reminded us of all standing anti-discrimination laws.

I'm thankful that the recommended changes included provisions to protect those who may be experiencing unsafe circumstances at home. It should be noted that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the City just approved another $1M in the FY2020 budget to combat domestic violence. This ordinance will serve as an extension to our commitment to the wellbeing of all residents of San Antonio.

I stand by the petitioners, the process, and the public in voting for revisions that provide all San Antonio working families a better chance to remain healthy on the job and safe at home."

About the Authors:

Brina is the Executive Producer of the NightBeat and KSAT Explains. She has been with KSAT since 2015. She is a Houston native and proud to call San Antonio home.