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Employers in Texas are not required to give employees vacation or sick leave benefits. However, an employer that chooses to give employees those benefits is supposed to comply with the terms of an established policy or employment contract. If you are concerned about your right to take leave, you should consult an experienced Dallas employment lawyer.

Leave Provided Under Employment Contracts

Texas law does not require sick leave benefits or vacation benefits. However, an employment contract can establish your employer’s policy for leave. For example, your employment contract may include a policy of providing employees with a certain amount of vacation leave. Some employers provide that accrued vacation will be paid to an employee upon separation from employment. However, the employer can include a provision in the employment contract denying payment for accrued vacation leave once an employee is no longer employed by the employer. The employer also can specify that employees are disqualified from payment of accrued vacation once they leave the job if they do not comply with certain requirements like providing two weeks’ notice.

Employers are not strictly required to provide bereavement leave in case a close relative dies. However, some employers do choose to provide bereavement leave, and if so they need to comply with their own employment contract or policy.

An employment contract may also set a cap on how much leave can be accrued over time or specify that the employee needs to use what has been accrued by a particular date or lose the leave.

Leave Required by Law

Employers may be required to provide leave under the law. For example, you may be eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if it applies to your employer, and you may be able to obtain leave for certain enumerated reasons. Local laws also may mandate that an employer provide leave. Our attorneys can advise you on which laws may apply to you.

In Dallas, there is a paid sick leave ordinance that was recently passed. It mandates that, depending on their size, private employers must provide up to 64 hours of paid sick leave to employees working in the city of Dallas. The sick leave can be taken for an employee’s physical injury, physical or mental illness, health care or health condition, need to care for a family member’s illness or injury, or preventative care. It also can be used for other purposes, such as a family member’s need to find medical attention, seek relocation, get services from a victim services organization, or participate in legal or court-ordered action related to victimization related to sexual assault, domestic abuse, or stalking that involves the employee or the employee’s family member.

Dallas employers that have more than 15 employees need to provide an hour of paid sick leave accrual for every 30 hours worked up to 64. If an employer has 15 or fewer employees, it needs to give paid sick leave accrual for up to 48 hours of paid sick leave each year. An employer is allowed to prevent the use of paid sick leave until an employee has been on the job for a minimum of 60 days.

The Dallas paid sick leave law prohibits employer retaliation against an employee who asks to use earned paid sick leave. If there is retaliation, a complaint is supposed to be filed within two years of the violation date. The violation can result in a civil fine of up to $500. There is no private right of action under the paid sick leave law.

Civic Duties

Under Texas law, an employer needs to give you time off to vote if you do not have two consecutive hours outside your scheduled work hours in which you could vote while the polls are open. An employer is not allowed to terminate you because you need to respond to a jury summons or because you are selected to serve on a jury. However, employers are not required to pay you during a period in which you need to respond to a jury summons or need to serve on a jury.

Consult an Experienced Employment Lawyer

If you are concerned about taking leave, or if you were improperly treated when taking leave to which you were entitled by law or your employment contract, you should talk to a skillful attorney about your situation. We assist people throughout Dallas, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, Rockwall, and Ellis Counties. Call us at (214) 528-6500 or complete our online form.

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