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Proposed Ordinance Would Require Most Portland Employers To Provide Sick Leave

January 22, 2013

Overview

On January 17, 2013, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz released a proposed ordinance that would require most private Portland employers to provide sick leave for employees who work at least 240 hours per year within the city limits. Under this proposed ordinance, employers with six or more employees would be required to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours an employee works. Employers with five or fewer employees would be required to provide unpaid sick leave at the same accrual rate. The proposed ordinance would cap the maximum amount of sick leave that an employee could accrue at 40 hours per year.

In addition to taking sick leave due to their own illness, the proposed ordinance would entitle employees to use the leave for preventive medical care, to care for a family member, or to address issues arising out of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking (though reasonable leave for such victims is already required under ORS § 659A.272).  Further, the leave could be used for other qualifying absences, including closure of the employee's workplace due to a public health emergency, caring for a child whose place of care was closed by a public official due to a public health emergency, caring for a family member whose presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others, or anytime the employer is required to exclude the employee from the workplace for health reasons.  For absences of more than three consecutive days, employers could require reasonable documentation that the sick leave had been used for a permissible purpose.  Employers would not be required to compensate employees for unused sick leave in the absence of a contractual obligation to do so.

The proposed ordinance also allows the City of Portland to contract with Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries for enforcement.  In addition, the proposed ordinance also grants employees a private right of action to sue employers for damages and any other remedies in the event of a claimed violation.

If passed, the ordinance would go into effect on January 1, 2014.  San Francisco and Seattle have passed ordinances similar to Commissioner Fritz's proposal.  A public informational forum will be held on Wednesday, January 23, 2013, from 6:00-8:00 pm in Room C on the second floor of the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland.  A Portland City Council hearing is scheduled for 2:00 pm on January 31, 2013, at Portland City Hall, and the final vote will likely occur by the end of February 2013.

The full text of the proposed ordinance is available online at http://www.portlandonline.com/fritz/index.cfm?c=49205&a=430316.

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