Austin Paid Sick Leave Law is Weird

When a draft PSL ordinance was first introduced in Austin, I posted that it was not faithful to the city’s slogan to “Keep Austin Weird” because it had the same architecture as every other PSL law in the country. Last week, the City Council enacted an amended PSL law. The enacted version heeded the slogan’s injunction. It’s weird.

It’s weird because it allows an employer to limit the number of calendar days in a year on which an employee can use accrued PSL time.  It states: “The Chapter does not require any employer to allow an employee to utilize earned sick time on more than 8 calendar days in a given calendar year.”


As a result, if an employer incorporates the 8 day cap into its PSL policy, an employee can only use as much accrued PSL time as needed during 8 calendar days, even if the employee has more accrued time available.

Assume an employee has the law’s 64 hour maximum accrual available. If that employee needs eight, eight-hour days of PSL time in a year, the employee would be able to use all of that maximum accrual. However, many uses of PSL do not require a full day’s absence, such as medical appointments. If the employee has a PSL need on any (or some or all) of those 8 calendar days that requires less than a full day of absence, the employee would not be able to use all of that maximum accrual. For example, if the employee had weekly physical therapy sessions, each requiring a three-hour absence, the employee would only be able to use 24 of that 64 hour accrual that year!

No other PSL law in the country has this “calendar day” limitation. It’s weird.