Update: Austin Paid Leave Ordinance Temporarily Suspended
In February, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The ordinance was set to go into effect October 1.
A lawsuit against Austin lead by The Texas Association of Business and joined by several other business groups including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), to challenge the ordinance has resulted in its being put on hold on Aug. 17 while the Texas state appeals court reviews the arguments against it. A judicial review of Austin's ordinance will begin in September.
The plaintiff groups contend that the city's ordinance violates the Texas Minimum Wage Act, which bars municipalities from regulating private-sector employees' wages.According to Nancy Hammer, SHRM's vice president of regulatory affairs and judicial counsel, "SHRM supports H.R. 4219, Workflex in the 21st Century Act, which allows employers to implement a nationwide standard rather than complying with a patchwork of state and local laws."
WORKLEX IN THE 21ST CENTURY ACT
The enactment of paid-sick-leave ordinances is a national issue that SHRM says it is seeking to address through the Workflex Act which was proposed last year in the House of Representatives. According to SHRM the bill would give employees more options and flexibility when taking time off to meet their individual and family needs while providing predictability for employers who now face a complexity of overlapping state and local requirements.
The act would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to create a qualified flexible work arrangement plan. To qualify as an ERISA-covered plan, the plan would have to include two components: a federal paid leave standard and flexible work arrangements for all employees. Employer participation would be voluntary.
Johnny C. Taylor Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of SHRM, testified in support of the bill before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions on July 24. ". . . outdated workplace rules and government-mandated leave requirements make it hard for employers to offer the arrangements that employees want," he said. Taylor said the bill would provide employees with leave and flexibility, help businesses attract and retain the talent they need, and allow businesses to grow and thrive.
While San Antonio passed a paid-sick-leave ordinance Aug. 16, it may be subject to legal challenges as well.
BFG will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates. Please contact our office if you have any questions.