At the time of this writing, two things have happened:
1. The implementation of the Ordinance is in limbo. Originally passed to take effect on October 1, 2018, lawsuits, appeals and counter suits have put this date on hold. Only the courts can activate this so it’s in a wait and see position. Of course the Texas Legislature (in session in January) can kill the ordinance passed by the Austin City Council, rendering it null and void.
So what is a business owner to do? The on, off, on, off again process has left the local business community confused about implementation. My advice is to treat your employees like family (in all the good ways), be fair always and generous when you can. Prepare for the regulations and stand by.
2. The Rules for Investigation of Complaints and Assessment of Civil Penalties under City Code Chapter 4-90 (the Earned Sick Time Ordinance) have been approved and contain a couple of surprises. The entire document is 411 pages and includes comments and answers during a public participation period addressing, not the ordinance, but the rules. Most all of the comments are contained in an 80 page chart which I did read.
At the end of this input, the city made a few changes to the rules. The most concerning is that they increased the penalties to businesses, effectively doubling the fines of businesses with fewer than 14 employees. Just to note, of 80 pages of comments, 12 people requested that the fines be raised and thus it was so.
The time investigators have to schedule interviews was shortened from 10 days to 8 days. The time to complete a final determination was shortened from 120 days to 75 days. 10 people requested some form of shortened process time.
While the most requested change (from both sides of the issue) was to add an appeals process. 13 people requested this. There is no option for an appeal of a determination in the rules and none was added.
No request for any adjustment from a business or business entity was granted.
Once again, it appears that divisiveness rules the day and local business loses.
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