Austin Public Health asks state to temporarily drop paid sick leave ordinance for public safety


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health says that in order for the city to prevent a potential outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), service industry employees need to be better protected against financial loss.

Austin’s Interim Health Director Mark Escott says that employees being able to stay at home when they feel sick is crucial to the city’s plans of preventing an outbreak.

“We want there to be no barriers if someone is sick, to them leaving work and going home to recover. That is the linchpin in our public health response,” Escott said to city council members Tuesday.

City council members are now asking Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton to temporarily drop a lawsuit that targets the city’s paid sick leave ordinance.

In 2018, the city passed a resolution mandating that private businesses provide sick leave for employees, but a Texas business group filed a lawsuit saying the ordinance violated the Texas Constitution.

Councilman Greg Casar says it’s unfair that other cities in Texas are allowed to move forward with similar ordinances.

On Tuesday, Casar asked Gov. Abbott, A.G. Ken Paxton and the Texas Public Policy Foundation to “pull down their lawsuit, at least temporarily for us to begin to enforce our ordinance, just like Dallas is able to right now.”

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