City council passes paid sick leave ordinance

Austin City Council has passed an ordinance for paid sick leave, requiring private businesses to give earned sick time. 

The historic vote makes Austin the first city in the south to guarantee all employees the right to paid sick days. The vote came in early on Friday after council listened to hours of public testimony. After many meetings, discussions, public out cry, support and some heated exchanges, council decided to pass it.

The proposal requires private business owners to give an hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked. It was sponsored by council member Greg Casar.The earned time would begin at the start of employment and carry over from one year to the next. It allows the paid sick leave to apply for things like physical and mental illness or injury, chronic health issues and preventative treatment of either the employee of his or her family members.

Only two council members voted against the ordinance. One of them being Ellen Troxclair. 

"Not only does the city itself not offer mandatory paid sick leave to all of its employees, but our city staff has no idea how much this is going to cost because even they haven't had enough time to fully understand the impact," Troxclair said. 

Casar had an opposite opinion. 

"We will be the first city in a red state to have their city council pass paid sick days. And we will inspire cities all across this state and all across the south to do the same thing," he said. 

Businesses now have until October to get in compliance with the ordinance, but small businesses with five or fewer employees have until 2020 to get it figured out.