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June 6, 2019

Paid State and Local Leave Law Updates in Maine and Texas

The state of Maine enacted a law that allows individuals to earn leave for a broad range of uses.  In addition, the earned sick leave ordinances enacted in Dallas and San Antonio are set to take effect on August 1.  Below is a summary of these developments.

Maine enacts ‘paid leave for any reason’ law

Maine becomes the first state to enact a broad paid personal leave plan. In a nutshell, this law entitled, “An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave” (S.P. 110 - L.D. 369), will allow individuals to accrue up to 40 hours (as more fully described below) per year that can be used for any purpose. This law takes effect January 1, 2021.

Employers subject to the law.  An employer subject to the law is any private employer who employs 10 or more employees in the usual and regular course of business for more than 120 days in a calendar year. Seasonal businesses are exempt from the requirements of the law. The law references the definition used for unemployment purposes which would suggest that if the employer employs at least one employee in the state it is subject to the law for that employee.

Eligible employees.  An eligible employee is any individual engaged in employment for a covered employer.

Amount of leave.  An employee is entitled to accrue one hour of earned leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours in one year of employment.  Accrual begins at the start of employment, but employers are not required to permit use of such leave before the employee has been employed for 120 days during a one-year period.

Use of leave.  Absent an emergency, an eligible employee is entitled to use his/her earned leave for any illness or other sudden necessity

Employee notice obligation.  An employee must provide reasonable notice to his/her supervisor of the intent to use earned leave.  Such leave must be scheduled to prevent undue hardship on the employer as reasonably determined by the employer.

Benefits during leave.  An employee taking earned leave is entitled to maintain any employee benefits accrued before the date on which the leave commenced, and the leave cannot affect the employee's right to health insurance benefits, on the same terms and conditions as applicable to similarly situated employees.

Enforcement.  Maine’s Department of Labor is charged with enforcement of the law, as well as adopting rules to implement its provisions.  

Texas: Paid Sick Leave Begins August 1 in Dallas and San Antonio

As follow-up to last month’s Benefit Beat article relating to paid sick leave ordinances enacted in Dallas and San Antonio, the 86th Regular Legislative Session ended in Texas without enactment of a law to prohibit municipalities within the state from enacting paid sick leave laws or ordinances.  An appeals court in Texas has already placed the City of Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance on hold (see Paid Sick Leave Changes in Texas, Benefit Beat, 9/6/18).  Depending on further litigation or special regulatory action, this means that both the Dallas and San Antonio paid sick leave laws take effect on August 1, 2019.

Dallas Earned Paid Sick Time Ordinance

The City of Dallas passed an Earned Paid Sick Time Ordinance on April 24, 2019.  This law requires private sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees beginning August 1, 2019.  For employers with 5 or fewer employees, the applicability date of the law is delayed until August 1, 2021. 

Employers subject to the law.  Employers subject to the ordinance include any person, company, corporation, firm, partnership, labor organization, non-profit organization or association that pays an employee to perform work for the employer, and exercises control over the employee’s wages, hours and working conditions.  Federal, state and local government employers are not subject to the ordinance.

Eligible employees.  An eligible employee is one who performs at least 80 hours of work in a calendar year within the City of Dallas for the employer subject to the law, including those who work through a temporary or employment agency. Independent contractors and unpaid interns are not eligible for the earned sick time benefit.

Accrual, Cap, Frontloading, and Carryover

Employees accrue at least one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked in the City.  Employees begin to accrue earned sick time beginning on the later of the date of hire, or August 1, 2019.  For employers with 5 or fewer employees, accrual begins August 1, 2021.  Earned sick time can be used as soon as it is accrued.  An employer can delay usage for up to 60 days for employees expected to be employed for at least a year. 

The accrual cap and use of leave is contingent upon the employer size, as follows:

  • Employers with 16 or more employees must allow employees to accrue, and use up to 64 hours of earned sick time per year;
  • Employers with 15 or fewer employees must allow employees to accrue and use up to 48 hours of earned sick time per year.

Unused accrued earned sick time can be carried over to the next following year, subject to the annual cap of 64 or 48 hours.  Alternatively, an employer that provides earned sick time for immediate use at the beginning of each year 64 (or 48 hours, as applicable) is not required to provide carryover, or additional accrual.

If an employee terminates employment and is rehired within six months of separation from the same employer, any previously accrued earned sick time that was not used must be reinstated and available for immediate use.

Use of leave.  Earned sick time can be taken for the following reasons:

  • To attend to one’s own needs, or to attend to the needs of a family member’s illness, injury, medical diagnosis or treatment, including preventative medical care.  For this purpose, a family member includes the employee's spouse, child, parent, or any other individual related by blood, or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.
  • To obtain services or care as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Notice Requirements

  • Employee notice obligations.  An employee must request use of earned sick time as soon as possible prior to his/her scheduled work time.  When the need for leave exceeds three consecutive work days, the employer may require reasonable documentation to substantiate the need for leave.
  • Employer workplace posting, notice obligations, and monthly accrual statements. An employer is required to:
  1. Display a poster describing the requirements of this ordinance in a conspicuous place where notices are customarily posted. The City’s enforcement department is charged with developing a model workplace poster in English and other appropriate languages that can be used by employers. 
  2. Include notice of an employee's rights and remedies under the earned sick leave ordinance in its employee handbook 
  3. Provide each employee a monthly statement, either electronically or in writing, reflecting the amount of the employee’s available earned paid sick time. 

Record retention.  Employers are required to maintain records establishing the amount of earned sick time accrued and used by each covered employee for three years.

Coordination with employer’s existing time off policy.  An employer’s existing leave policy can satisfy the obligations of the City of Dallas’ paid sick leave law as long it is at least as generous as the Ordinance requires.

Coordination with other laws.  This law must be coordinated with other federal, state or local laws, where applicable.

Enforcement.  The Dallas City Manager is charged with designating a department to implement, administer, and enforce this ordinance.  As of the time of this writing, a department has not been designated. 

San Antonio’s Earned Paid Sick Time Ordinance

The City Council of San Antonio enacted its Earned Paid Sick Time Ordinance on August 16, 2018. 

Briefly, the law requires private sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees beginning August 1, 2019.  For employers with 5 or fewer employees, the applicability date of the law is delayed until August 1, 2021. Employees working at least 80 hours in a calendar year within the City of San Antonio for the covered employer is entitled to accrue at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked in the City. 

For a full summary of the San Antonio paid sick leave ordinance, see Paid Sick Leave Changes, Benefit Beat, 9/6/18.

The information contained in this article is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This article is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. Please consult a CBIZ professional. This information is provided as-is with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

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