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Doing Business in Eugene? Mandatory Sick Leave May Soon Be a Reality

May 27, 2014


Less than a few months after Portland's Sick Leave Ordinance was enacted to cover the broader City of Portland area, the City of Eugene appears to be gearing up to follow in Portland's footsteps with its own mandatory sick time law. Keep reading to learn what we know now, where things are going next, and how you can get involved in this important process of shaping what Eugene's mandatory sick leave law, if passed, will look like.

1. What has happened and next steps

The City of Portland passed a mandatory sick leave law, which began on January 1, 2014, that requires all employers with workers within the greater geographic area of the City of Portland to provide those workers with sick leave. Employers with six or more workers are required to provide paid leave to eligible workers, while employers with fewer than six workers are required to provide unpaid leave. In addition, employers are required to make various administrative changes in order to be in compliance with the Portland ordinance, as discussed in more detail here. Employers' reactions to the Portland ordinance have been varied, but many expressed concern about not being included earlier in the process of formulating the new law.

In Eugene, on February 24, 2014, a coalition of advocacy groups that organized a sick leave campaign called "Everybody Benefits Eugene" proposed to the Eugene City Council that Eugene enact a mandatory sick leave ordinance. The City Council then met again on April 9, for a work session to discuss the timeline and process for developing a draft sick leave ordinance to consider for adoption.

Next, a task force was assembled to create a draft sick leave ordinance. Members of that task force include the following: United ‎Food and Commercial Workers Staff Director Kevin Billman; Painters Local 1277 Business ‎Representative Pat Smith, who is also Secretary-Treasurer of the Lane, Coos, Curry, Douglas ‎Building Trades Council; Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy; and Eugene City Council members Claire ‎Syrett and Alan Zelenka. The task force first met on May 20th and plans to meet again on May 29th. The City Council plans to have a draft ordinance for public review sometime between mid-June and the first week of July, followed by a public hearing approximately two weeks later, and then the City Council will meet to decide whether to adopt the draft ordinance.

2. What you can do to get involved

While the members of the task force have already been chosen, you can still be involved in the process and provide feedback. Feedback can be provided to the above members of the task force or directly to us, if you would like us to provide feedback on your behalf or anonymously.

Moreover, when the draft ordinance is published to the public, that is the time to make your voice heard. We have seen the challenges of the Seattle and Portland mandatory sick leave laws for employers and it is important that Eugene's City Council recognizes these challenges before adopting the same issues. In addition, we encourage you to attend the public hearing to participate in the discussion and voice your concerns then as well.

3. Questions?

We are closely monitoring developments related to mandatory sick leave laws in Oregon and Washington, including these latest efforts in Eugene. These issues are complicated and raise numerous legal concerns. We are here to help guide you through these issues as they are developing and once any new law is enacted. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.