Following in the footsteps of Seattle, San Francisco, and others, the City of Portland enacted a sick leave ordinance on March 13, 2013, applicable to employees who work at least 240 hours per calendar year within the City limits. Employees who work in the City intermittently accrue benefits under the ordinance only for the hours they are paid to work within the City.
The ordinance requires small employers – those with five or fewer employees – to provide one hour of unpaid sick time for every 30 hours of work performed by the employee. Employers of six or more employees must provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours of work performed. Salaried executive, administrative or professional employees who are exempt from overtime under state and federal law are presumed to work 40 hours per week for purposes of accruing sick time under the ordinance, unless their regular work week is less than 40 hours.
Employees may accrue a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time per year unless the employer provides or is contractually obligated to provide more. Employees may carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time from year to year. An employer with an established sick leave or PTO policy that provides for the accrual of sick time that equals or exceeds the requirements of the ordinance need not provide additional time off.
Employees may use sick time accrued under the ordinance for:
- The diagnoses, care, or treatment of an illness, injury, or health condition, including pregnancy, childbirth and preventive care, of the employee or the employee’s family member.
- For protected leave under ORS 659A272 (covering absences due to domestic violence, criminal harassment, sexual assault , or stalking).
- Due to an ordered closure of a business, school or day care facility due to a public health emergency.
- Due to a legal requirement that the employee be excluded from the workplace for health reasons.
- To care for a family member of whose presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others, as determined by a public health authority.
The required sick time may be used for all of part of a shift in increments of no less than one hour, unless the employer allows a smaller increment to be used. Employees may not use sick time if the employee is not scheduled to work in the City for the shift for which the sick time is requested. Employees are also prohibited from using sick time in the first 90 days of employment, unless the employer allows it.
Employers must allow employees to trade shifts to avoid using sick time if the employer allows shift trading. Employees must otherwise use their accrued sick time whenever an absence qualifies for it.
Employees must notify employers of their need to use sick time. Employers are required to establish a written policy or standard to inform employees how that notice should be provided. For absences of more than three consecutive days, employers may require reasonable documentation that sick time has been used for a permissible purpose. Employers must pay the cost of any verification required from a health care provider that is not covered by insurance.
Employers are not required to pay employees for unused accrued sick time on termination of employment.
Employers may not count the use of sick leave toward as an unexcused absence under an attendance policy. In addition, employers are prohibited from interfering with or retaliating against employees who exercise or attempt to exercise their rights under the ordinance. Employers must post a notice informing employees of their rights under the ordinance.
The City has yet to adopt administrative rules for interpreting or implementing the ordinance, which will be subject to a public review process. Enforcement is likely to be governed by ORS Chapter 659A.800, which sets forth the procedures for enforcement and remedies for violation of many of Oregon’s employment-related statutes.
Employers have the rest of the year to beef of their sick leave policies or otherwise comply with the new ordinance. Stay tuned for further developments.