Portland Pondering Paid Sick Leave Proposal

Following the footsteps of San Francisco and Seattle, the Portland City Council may soon require employers within the Portland city limits to provide employees with paid sick leave.

According to reports in The Oregonian and the Portland Tribune, the non-profit organization Family Forward Oregon has approached the City Council with a paid sick leave proposal, which is reportedly modeled after ordinances enacted in San Francisco and Seattle.  Labor activists and unions are also in support of the proposal, as demonstrated by a rally in front of Portland City Hall on October 31.  Portland-area news sources report that 40% of Portland workers do not have paid sick leave.

The proposal is still in the development stages and has not been published, nor are any details provided on the Family Forward Oregon or Portland City Council web sites.  According to the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA), the proposed ordinance would require that all Portland businesses provide paid sick leave to all Portland employees, whether full-time, part-time or temporary.  Employers would have to provide paid sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked and permit employees to carry over 40 hours of unused leave into the following year.  Unlike Seattle’s sick leave law, the Portland proposal prohibits shift trading among employees.  There still is no word on whether the law would include accrual or usage caps, employer “tiers,” a waiting period for new employees, or paid leave for “safe time.”

Although no final proposal has been released, Family Forward Oregon hopes the Portland City Council will enact the paid sick leave law before the end of 2012.  However, the City Council may take a more cautious approach in light of public reaction to a recently-enacted ordinance that requires fluoridation of Portland drinking water.  A potential change in Council membership as a result of the upcoming election may also affect the timeline.

Similar ordinances are pending in Orange County, Florida and the State of New York.  To date, only San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and the State of Connecticut require employers to provide paid sick leave.

To read more about the pending Portland proposal, visit: http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandcityhall/2012/10/activists_press_portland_to_ad.html or http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/116727-activists-sick-of-working-while-sick

If you have any questions on this, or any other employment law issue, please contact Kirsten Daniels at 206.254.4454 or via email at kdaniels@cairncross.com.  Of course, you can always contact any member of the Retail, Hotel & Restaurant team; we’re happy to help.