Sick Days Update: Oregon Senate Passes Bill, On to the House!

June 10, 2015
dembrow on the floor sick senate
Sen. Michael Dembrow opens floor debate on SB 454B; he carried the bill.

Oregon Senate Passes Sick Time Legislation, Bill Heads to House Floor
SB 454 is good for good for Oregon families, good for business, and good for public health

The Oregon Senate today passed Senate Bill 454-B, sending the paid sick time bill to the Oregon House of Representatives for approval. The 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. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 17-13.

I am thrilled that the Senate showed strong support today for paid sick days, giving more Oregon families some much-needed economic security. Today’s vote was an important step forward and I’m going to keep fighting to get this done, said Senator Steiner Hayward, one of the bill’s champions, following the vote.

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

Our senate did the right thing today by passing paid sick days. Without this bill, too many Oregonians have to sacrifice a day’s pay, or their job altogether, to take care of themselves or their sick child, and that’s not how we should do business in Oregon. A handful of paid sick days a year will help keep our workers, our families, our workplaces, and our communities healthier. I urge House members to support this bill and help create an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few, said Andrea Paluso, Everybody Benefits Coalition Chair and Family Forward Oregon Executive Director.

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.

I work hard but still can’t get ahead. When my special needs son gets sick and I have to stay home, I do not get paid. My husband doesn’t have paid sick days either. So, staying home to recover from an illness even for a day means we lose a substantial part of our income and have to decide what part of the budget has to be cut that month: utilities, groceries, gas or things our growing children need, like a new pair of pants, said Anastasia Hernandez Vasquez, a mom from Hillsboro who lacks paid sick time.

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 Cities of Portland and Eugene are among those that have led the movement by passing their own city ordinances.

This bill will not only help families, it’s also good for business. Study after study finds that paid sick days boost productivity and help companies retain workers. In this case, doing the right thing for workers and their families is also the right thing for Oregon businesses,  said Senator Dembrow.

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 House.


About the Everybody Benefits Coalition:

Everybody Benefits is Oregon’s campaign for paid sick time, formed by a broad coalition of members who believe that Oregonians needs a basic workplace standard for paid sick time to protect public health and the health of our workers, our families, our healthcare system and our economy. Members include: American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Causa Oregon, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Family Forward Oregon, Main Street Alliance of Oregon,, The Mother PAC, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon Working Families, Service Employees International Union Local 503, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, Urban League of Portland, and Working America.