BREAKING: Sick Time Bill Advances in Oregon Legislature

June 5, 2015
Oregon State Capitol at Sunset

Bill Ensuring All Working Oregonians Have Access to Sick Time Passes Ways and Means, Heads to Senate Floor
SB 454 will promote public health and the economic security of Oregon families

 The Joint Ways and Means Committee today passed Senate Bill 454, the paid sick time bill, on a party line vote. The proposed legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Steiner Hayward of Beaverton and Representative Vega Pederson of Portland, will ensure working Oregonians can earn a moderate number of sick days each year. It is now headed to the Senate floor.

“Too many working Oregonians can’t afford to stay home when they’re sick, see a doctor when they need to, or care for a child when they are ill,” said Senator Steiner Hayward, co-sponsor of the bill. “This bill makes it possible for workers all across Oregon to care for their own and their family’s health without fear of losing their job or much needed pay. I strongly encourage Senate members to support this basic workplace and health standard.”

Last month, the Fair Shot For All Coalition held a press conference with workers, business owners and 10 state legislators, calling on our state legislature to take immediate action on a strong paid sick days law. Enacting a statewide paid sick days law is one of the coalition’s top priorities this session.

Individuals without paid sick time currently have only two options:

  • Go to work sick or send a sick child to school or daycare; or
  • Stay home, lose pay and risk being fired.

“There are too many Oregonians, especially those in low-wage jobs, who have never had access to a single paid sick day where they work. When paid sick days become the law in Oregon, it will remedy that inequality,” said Andrea Paluso, Everybody Benefits Coalition Chair and Family Forward Oregon Executive Director. “We can’t wait any longer. It’s time to prioritize working families and make sure Oregon workers have the dignity and respect in the workplace that comes with being able to provide for a family and care for one.”

Currently, 47 percent of private-sector workers in Oregon lack paid sick time. There’s an even larger gap in access among Hispanic workers in Oregon, with 62 percent lacking paid sick time. Low-wage workers are less likely to have access to paid sick days than higher-paid workers. Access to paid sick time varies widely according to income, as well. In Oregon, 82 percent of those earning more than $65,000 annually have access to paid sick time, compared to 29 percent of Oregonians earning less than $20,000 annually.

Paid sick time has gained support all over the country in the last few years as three states and 18 cities have now passed laws and approved measures granting workers access to protected and paid sick days. The City of Portland and the City of Eugene are among those that have led the movement by passing their own city ordinances.

SB 454 will create a statewide standard so workers all across Oregon can accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours (about five days) in a year. Sick time can be used for the diagnosis, care or treatment of the worker or a member of their family or in instances of domestic violence. The bill also protects employees from retaliation or discrimination for the use of sick time.

The bill now awaits further consideration in the Senate.