Following a citywide public input process Council Member Greg Casar, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, and council members Delia Garza and Ann Kitchen have sponsored a paid sick leave ordinance that would apply to private employers in Austin. The ordinance draft was released Jan. 19. City Council will vote on it Feb. 15.

More than 220,000 Austin workers stand to benefit from such a policy.

Casar's ordinance requires employers to grant one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked by an employee, with accrual beginning at the start of employment and carrying over from one year to the next.

The draft allows paid sick leave to apply in instances of physical and mental illness or injury, chronic health issues and preventive treatment of either the employee or his or her family members. It also covers absences due to "legal or court-ordered action related to an incident of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking involving the employee or employee's family member."

Business owners are allowed to instate "reasonable verification procedures" to confirm that an employee's paid sick leave adheres to the above rules. If businesses already provide paid time off to employees that meet the ordinance's standards, they will not be required to provide additional paid sick time.

"I have been a part of many democratic processes, but personally, this ordinance is the culmination of one of the most thorough and demanding processes I've every participated in," said Casar, who represents District 4. "I'm grateful for the working families, small-business leaders and advocates who have been engaged in this policy process to ensure no one in Austin has to choose between paying their bills or taking care of themselves or a loved one when they are sick."