At what rate should workers earn paid sick time? How much should be earned per year?

by Doug Matthews, almost 2 years ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded. We are now reviewing all participant feedback and preparing our final report back to Council.

Sick time is often provided as a percentage of hours worked. For instance, a worker may earn one hour of sick leave for ever 40 hours worked. It could also be provided as a fixed amount on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. There are a variety of options. Which do you think would work best? How much time should workers expect to earn on an annual basis? 

Consultation has concluded

  • Laura R almost 2 years ago
    Paid sick time should be earned at a rate of 1 hour sick time per 20 hours worked, which equates to 12 days a year for a full-time worker.
  • sclaytor almost 2 years ago
    A ratio of 1 hour sick time/PTO per 20 hours worked seems reasonable, but employees should have access to that sick time as soon as they start working-- illnesses and other emergencies don't happen on a schedule.
  • Wtaylor23 almost 2 years ago
    50-80%
  • Arawin86 almost 2 years ago
    56 hours annually divided to accrue over 26 per periods 80 hours per pay period. Eligible to rollover each year to the maximum of 480 hours. Sick Time will have no value at termination. Each sick time hour is paid at hourly rate.
  • TanDao almost 2 years ago
    1 hour for every 40 hours of work.
  • JasonLockhart almost 2 years ago
    This is 100% up to the employer and the prospective employee to negotiate on their own without interference from city bureaucrats.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comment, Jason. -Moderator
    • Maryd almost 2 years ago
      Likewise, the city should not force this issue onto businesses.
  • Sarah almost 2 years ago
    As a state employee, I earn 12 sick days a year and 12 vacation days a year. I can’t imagine working a low wage job that can barely cover my expenses and then losing $100-$200 any time life happens and I have to miss a day. I think that the policy implemented should be generous, providing the typical full-time employee with 12 or more days a year. As for enforcement, any type of PTO or paid sick days that an employer provides would count towards the 12 days. It doesn’t all have to be “sick time.”
    Hide reply (1)
    • Maryd almost 2 years ago
      Your salary is paid by taxpayers, that is why your benefits are generous. Private employers sell goods or services. They cannot collect money from residents just to meet their financial obligations. Increasing regulations and costs are a burden to small businesses. If Austin wants to keep small businesses thriving, they need to let market forces decided compensation issues, not governmental regulations that may be onerous.
  • cstrombe almost 2 years ago
    The rate should be determined by the employer. The city should not be involved in private company policy.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • TheRationalAtheist almost 2 years ago
      The rate will be determined by employer - the additional rate that is! this is simply setting the bare minimum to be allowed. You're a little confused by the query it seems, but no matter - direct your questions to me and all shall be answered. -- The Rational Atheist.
    • Sarah almost 2 years ago
      ಠ_ಠ
  • Art Klempner almost 2 years ago
    After a 6 month review you should start getting sick pay. 1 day for every 2 months worked.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Sarah almost 2 years ago
      The plight of working people in Austin is so bad that I would argue for more than 6 days a year (which seems to be what you’re suggesting.) Keeping in mind that 38% of jobs currently offer nothing in the way of sick time or PTO, I think we should aim higher.
  • Ashkan almost 2 years ago
    Earned paid sick leave should accrue immediately once an employee begins working for a company. 1 hour should be accrued for every 20 hours worked.
  • lillian_m almost 2 years ago
    1 hour of paid time off for every 20 hours worked. Right now there are full-time workers in Austin with only 1-3 paid sick days a year and that just isn't enough.
  • gift almost 2 years ago
    This level of minutia shows how expensive for businesses and intrusive into private situations such a city policy will become.
    Hide reply (1)
    • TheRationalAtheist almost 2 years ago
      I dont think so at all - it's a simple procedural inquiry that employers have to navigate anyway. If complexity scares you, the world of commerce, with its minutiae swirling like a rising sea, is simply not for you! Thank you for your time -- The Rational Atheist.
  • TheRationalAtheist almost 2 years ago
    Greetings! The rate of 20-25 hours per hour of paid sick time seems reasonable to me - as that is to my knowledge the rate state workers receive. I think it should be fixed annually - capped at a reasonable (10-15 days) number, and that it should roll over from one year to another. I think that would be most satisfactory for the employees and employers of Austin, keeping everyone healthy and profitable. Have a great evening! -- The Rational Atheist.
  • bdm2701 almost 2 years ago
    Zero. None, we libertarians do not want government dictated mandatory sick leave.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Tyson_512 almost 2 years ago
      Well, you probably don't want government dictated minimum age, government dictated child-labor laws, government dictated food-inspections either, right? I don't know how "libertarians" feel, but most people like those and would find the suggestion that they're bad just because they're "government dictated" ridiculous
  • Tyson_512 almost 2 years ago
    Workers should fight for as much time as they can. A good opening suggestion is 1 hour for every 20 worked, but if workers need and want more we should win it.
  • Renee787 almost 2 years ago
    Allowing employees to earn sick time is encouraging laziness. A salaried employee should get sick time for any amount of time that they are actually sick or too injured to work and a note from a physician is provided. The maximum time off should be one month for salaried, full time employees and should be paid in full.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • JackJ25 almost 2 years ago
      But what can you do if you're sick just for a day? Like food poisoning? It's very difficult to see a physicians on the day of, and sometimes hard to leave the house. Also some people can't afford to go and pay to see a physician.
      Hide reply (1)
      • Renee787 almost 2 years ago
        I usually let my employees make up the work on another shift when they get better no matter they have a doctor’s note or not.
    • Tyson_512 almost 2 years ago
      "A salaried employee should get sick time for any amount of time that they are actually sick or too injured to work and a note from a physician is provided."Why only salaried, and not wage-earners or part-time? Also, sometimes you don't need to spend money to go to a doctor or don't have good health coverage and you just need some cough syrup, soup and sleep. Asking people to take a bus around town while they're already sick just to give you a note is silly.
  • Melanieavant almost 2 years ago
    % of hours worked
  • JackJ25 almost 2 years ago
    Employees of healthcare often do not get enough sick days. Working with patients often puts us at risk and we have a greater chance of getting sick, but we usually don't have enough sick time. I frequently see employees coming in even though they're sick as they can't afford a sick day. I think allotted sick day should depend on the setting. As for general public, I think we should have a fixed amount provided per year and not have to earn sick day as being sick is unpredictable.
  • strugglingsmallbizowner almost 2 years ago
    Which would work best? Nothing. How much time should workers expect? Again, nothing. This policy should not be created.
  • TurboSpencer almost 2 years ago
    The coverage should be left up to the private employer as they see fit. The private employers are the best qualified to determine the impact to their business and what they can or cannot afford. If they are losing people because of their policies they will change their policies appropriately.
  • mattwgore almost 2 years ago
    This question, like all the questions on this forum, assume that the city should implement a sick leave policy. I take issue with that premise; I think citizens should discuss the merits of the policy in general before getting into specifics. To respond to this question, however, I think that there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer. Employees in certain industries are more likely to become ill than employees in other industries. Certain employers can be more flexible than others based on the goods and services they provide. Any attempt to answer this question, and a hundred like it, for the entire city would be a mistake. This is a complicated question and any answer needs to take into account the diverse needs of employees and employers. Monolithic answers crush diversity. We need to honor the individual circumstances of employees and employers.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, mattwgore. -Moderator
  • Julia K almost 2 years ago
    I think 1 hour for every 40 hours worked is fair as opposed to a fixed amount. That threshold should be the minimum.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, Julia. -Moderator
  • Wendykalthoff almost 2 years ago
    It should be more than 1 hour every 40 hours worked.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comment, Wendy--can you clarify? How much time do you recommend? -Moderator
  • Feedback2017 almost 2 years ago
    1 hour accrued for every 52 hours worked
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, Feedback2017. -Moderator
  • onefl almost 2 years ago
    Since illness are unplanned, workers should have the opportunity to start earning sick leave as soon as possible.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comment, onefl--any thoughts about how much leave should be given? -Moderator
  • sbz almost 2 years ago
    Employers should provide more than just a few days a year of sick leave - the policy should enable people to recover from a variety of kinds of illnesses, including those that take a while to recover from (for instance, many surgeries require at least a week of recovery time, or often more).
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, sbz--any further clarity you can give for how much leave should be provided? -Moderator
  • kyleafh almost 2 years ago
    This should be decided by whatever mutual agreement the worker and the employer have come to.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, kyleafh. -Moderator
  • Vivian Martin almost 2 years ago
    Employee could earn 4 hours per pay period, if paid biweekly. If paid monthly, 8 hours per month. If paid weekly, 2 hours per week.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, Vivian. -Moderator
  • ayork almost 2 years ago
    Provided the employee receives no other Paid time off (vacation), 1 hour for every 50 hours worked or the equivalent of 40 hours (1 week) per year. If the employee accrues PTO already, additional sick leave should only be accrued as would be necessary to bring the total of PTO and sick leave up to 40 hours per year.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, ayork. -Moderator
  • Typical Austinite almost 2 years ago
    Again, this question is phrased as a self fulfilling prophecy and presumes that everyone agrees that the City of Austin should mandate paid time off. I do not believe they should. This is an issue that should be resolved by business Owners and employees directly, not by the local government. If an employee does not like their job, or feels like they should receive some different or additional type of benefit, then they should discuss with the employer. If the employer does not want to (or cannot) provide this, the employee has the right to look for another job. If enough employees leave (or strike), the company will either go out of business, or will be forced to adjust their policies. This is how the "market place" works in a capitalist society. Local government has no business in this discussion. We are in a very robust economy right now with plenty of work. There is no better time for workers to instigate these discussions with their employers. I firmly believe that if research was conducted, the findings would show that the vast majority of businesses in Austin already provide some form of paid time off for their workforce. This is not an issue that effects such a large proportion of the community that it needs to have a blanket law or ordinance applied to every business. Rather, it should be more of a targeted approach. People who have never started or run a business seem to have no concept of the realities of business. The biggest one being that there is not an infinite amount of money that comes in the door. You cannot pay for something if there is no revenue behind it. Salaries, hourly wages and benefits are all based upon the amount of revenue a company can create and the value those workers have in creating revenue.Just as their is the notion of the value of sustainability in our environmental systems, so too one must realize that there is the same notion in our financial/economic systems. Well run businesses that can provide steady employment are ones that have created a sustainable business model. This means that through the services or products they sell, they create enough revenue to pay their work force, weather downturns in the economy and viably compete with their competitors. An unsustainable business model is one that spends more dollars than they make. If you have an unskilled hourly construction worker working for you, they provide a service or benefit to the company for the dollars they are paid. They are paid for every hour that they work in a 40 hour work week, and in many situations, paid 50% more per hour for overtime. If they are not there to work, there is no benefit to the company. Thus, paid time off does not make sense. The solution here is to allow unpaid time off, and the opportunity to make up the hours. This is different than a salaried employee. A salaried employee has the benefit of the same pay each week, but may be (and is often) asked to work to more than 40 hours/wk for the same pay. In this circumstance, there is a natural trade-off of work vs benefit that allows for paid time off. If you demand that everyone gets paid time off regardless of their employment status (i.e. hourly vs. salaried), there has to be dollars coming in the door to pay for it. If the hourly worker does not provide his work or service, the only other way to pay for the increase in overhead is to raise prices. This is what causes inflation. Think about that the next time your rent goes up, your grocery bill gets higher, your electricity bill increases. It is precisely these kind of issues that are causing Austin to become one of the most expensive places to live in the US. Folks, nothing comes for free. If you force businesses to offer paid time off, they will raise prices. Those increased prices will negatively effect the pocketbooks of the very same people you are trying to help. These are the lowest income, unskilled part of the workforce. Everything they buy and their taxes will increase, and they have the least ability to adjust to this.There are other and better solutions to this issue and, like most municipal governments, I do not think the City of Austin is the best equipped to solve it.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, Typical Austinite. -Moderator
  • JoseGarza almost 2 years ago
    People who work should be able to accrue up to nine days a year of sick time.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, Jose; any specific reason you chose that number? -Moderator
  • mkcl almost 2 years ago
    City over-reach. Stay out of private companies’ business. Clean up your own house!
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments; can you clarify what you mean by cleaning up? What specifically about the City of Austin's policies or practices do you think needs attention? -Moderator
  • Bo Delp almost 2 years ago
    All workers should have enough time to recover, and it would be preferable to have hours available, even if they are accrued, as soon as possible when workers begin employment. That's because paid sick days help worker productivity and reduce turnover.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments, Bo. -Moderator
  • Jennifer Stevens about 2 years ago
    again, a leading question.... this should say "do you think workers should earn paid sick time? If so, how do you think employers would pay for those benefits? and do you think by offering these benefits jobs could be lost?"
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks, Jennifer; see other responses on other posts. -Moderator
  • mturpin almost 2 years ago
    All PTO decisions should be made by employers not the city. Employers know better when they need to pay employees PTO to compete for talent. The city should not mandate that any employer be compelled to offer any benefit.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Larry Schooler almost 2 years ago
      Thanks for your comments. -Moderator