The 2015 legislature adopted Senate Bill 454 which mandates paid sick leave for employees of employers that employ 10 or more employees in the state (or at least 6 if located in Portland). The law requires a policy that either front-loads the employees with at least 40 hours of paid sick time at the beginning of each year used to calculate the accrued sick time, or:

  1. allows employees to earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year;
  2. allows employees to earn at least 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, or 1 1/3 hours for every 40 hours worked.

Employers employing fewer workers under the mandated thresh hold are still required to have a sick leave policy, but paid sick leave is not required.

Further, the law requires that employees be allowed to bank (or carry over) up to 40 hours of paid sick leave from one year to the next, however, the employer may limit an employee to accruing no more than 80 hours of paid sick leave. The sick time shall be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Paid sick time can be used for a variety of purposes, but in general, for illness, injury, health condition, treatment, diagnosis or preventive medical care, or for care regarding a family member relating to illness, health condition, medical care, or the like. The law also provides that “[A]n employer with a sick leave policy, paid vacation policy, paid personal time off policy or other paid time off program that is substantially equivalent to or more generous to the employee than the minimum requirements of sections 2 to 16 of this 2015 Act shall be deemed to be in compliance with the requirements of sections 2 to 16 of this 2015 Act.” Accordingly, a PTO program, or paid vacation policy program, that meets the other requirements of the law will satisfy the new requirements.

The law does not require an employer to compensate an employee for accrued sick time upon a separation for employment (although this may be required by the employer’s policy).

There is a private right of action provided to employees, under ORS 659A.885(2), which will carry a presumptive right to attorney fees. The requirements go into effect on January 1, 2016.

Accordingly, this new legislation poses issues for both very small employers, and larger employers. Several requirements regarding sick leave are placed upon even upon small employers who are not required to provide paid sick leave. The foregoing article is general only and is not legal advice.