Dallas City Council passes ordinance requiring paid sick time for employees

The Dallas City Council approved a new ordinance Wednesday that labor groups describe as a victory for workers.

The ordinance requires businesses to provide Dallas employees access to paid sick time.

This is a hot-button issue, with dozens of people signed up to speak before the council.

At times, the crowd got rowdy. One councilman even tore up another council member's alternate proposal in his face.

There was roaring applause from the audience moments after Dallas City Council passed an ordinance requiring businesses to pay sick leave to everyone who works in the city.

“And the buck stops here with Dallas City Council,” Councilman Scott Griggs said.

The 10-4 vote followed hours of spirited testimony and discussion.

“When the private sector refuses to take care of our community, you all are our last line of defense you're all we have left,” one person said.

“I humbly ask that you do not impose this against small business owners, it will cripple them,” another speaker said.

At one point, Councilman Philip Kingston -- a longtime advocate for paid sick leave -- tore up an alternate proposal offered by Councilman Adam McGough in his face.

On paper, the ordinance means all businesses within Dallas city limits will have to pay employees one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Some councilmembers expressed concern.

“If we continue to impose more and more regulations on these small entrepreneurs, it's only going to hurt us in the long run,” Councilman Lee Kleinman said.

Lee Daugherty, who owns a bar in Oak Lawn, disagrees.

“I've implemented paid sick time years ago and I've watched my turnover rate fall,” Daugherty said.

The Dallas ordinance, similar to one passed in Austin last year, will likely end up in court.

Austin was sued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who described sick leave ordinances as illegal minimum wage increases.

A lobby of state business groups is also pressuring the legislature to block cities from "launching a power grab to force burdensome regulations on the job creators that fuel their communities"

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings recognized that Wednesday's vote was only a first step.

“I hope no one thinks because we voted on this, things are going to change in August,” Rawlings said.

The details about how this ordinance will be implemented in August need to be worked out by the city manager.

Code enforcement will likely play a large role, as businesses in violation would face fees and fines.