Paid Sick Days

We have a problem in Oregon: Too few people earn sick time at work, but we all get sick.  A shocking40% of private-sector workers and 80% of low-income workers have no paid sick days from their job – not one.  Every one of us gets sick occasionally, but not everyone gets the time they need to recover or care for sick family members – and it affects all of us.

But there’s a solution: Allow people to earn sick time while working.  Our neighbors to the north and south (Seattle in ‘11, San Francisco in ‘06) passed local ordinances that require employers to let employees earn sick days to recover from illness or take care of sick kids without losing critical income – or their jobs.  Ensuring that all workers have the time it takes to care for yourself and family members when sick is practical, equitable, preventive – and urgent.  We just can’t afford to wait.

When workers earn sick time, everybody benefits.  Here’s how: 

√ Earned Sick Days are GOOD FOR PUBLIC HEALTH.

It’s a fact: illnesses spread in workplaces.

Yet, 40% of people working in Oregon have no earned sick leave – including thousands of local grocery stores, restaurants and medical centers.

74% of food service workers in Oregon earn no paid sick leave while working, even though handling food is one of the fastest ways to spread illness.

√ Earned Sick Days are GOOD FOR FAMILIES.

The last thing many families can afford to lose is a day’s pay – especially these days.  Even one day without pay can prevent a family from affording rent, health care, or a heating bill.  Plus, sick kids should recover at home, where they’ll recover faster and won’t get others sick. Who wants to choose between their health and their livelihood?

√ Earned Sick Days are GOOD FOR BUSINESS.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but employersactually save money when employees earn paid sick days. Here’s why:Employees who stay home when sick are more productive than those who work sick (they actually cost employers!). Plus,

  • Workers take a median of only three sick days a year, even when they’ve earned more.
  • Nine out of 10 employers rarely or never need to hire replacement workers when employees use sick leave.
  • A minimum standard for earning sick days also levels the playing field for employers who already have this policy.

Learn more at and read our report, Evaluating Paid Sick Time: Social, Economic, and Health Implications for Portland (January 2013).