Sick Leave Sign (2) smallWith Oregon set to adjourn its legislature in early July, the Oregon Congress put its process on the fast track in time to deliver a mandatory paid sick and safe leave bill to the Governor’s desk, where it was signed on June 22. Oregon is the 4th state to offer statewide sick leave, along with California, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The bill takes effect January 1, 2016.

While the law mandates that employers offer paid sick leave, it is closer to an employer-friendly paid sick leave law than the 3 states that have passed sick leave laws, and here’s why. The new Oregon law:

  • deems compliant employers who offer other paid leave (e.g., paid person days, PTO, etc.) of equal or greater amount and rate of accrual that can be used for the same purposes required by the Oregon paid sick leave law
  • doesn’t burden employers more burdensome notice, reporting and record-keeping requirements (see California’s paid sick leave law for an example of a more burdensome framework)
  • doesn’t carve out a special population of workers, causing employers to potentially create different sick time policies by parsing out its work force (see Connecticut’s sick leave law that covers only “service workers”)
  • allows employers to require paperwork after an employee misses 3 consecutive work days rather than a proscribed amount of work hours, taking into consideration that employees’ schedules and shifts vary and not all work an 8-hour a day, 5-day a week schedule (see Massachusetts paid sick leave law which requires 24 consecutively scheduled work hours)
  • gives employers options regarding carryover of unused hours from one year to the next or, with the employee’s agreement offering an end-of-year payout of unused paid sick time (unlike Massachusetts which requires carryover of 40 hours without exception)
  • offers pro-rated accrual and usage for part-time workers
  • coordinates with other state laws, including covering the same relationships as the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA)(see California’s paid sick leave law which offers time off to care for an expanded list of family members than the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) offers, creating inconsistencies for employers)
  • runs concurrently with federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), OFLA and Oregon Victims of Certain Crimes Leave Act (OVVCLA), if applicable to the employee’s absence
  • paid sick time is not required to be paid out upon the employee’s termination or resignation

Details of the law:
The Oregon paid sick and safe leave law requires employers with at least 10 employees (or 6 employees if the employer has a location in a city with a population of at least 500,000) to provide up to 40 hours per year of paid sick and safe time for a variety of reasons, including an employee’s or family member’s illness, bonding time for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child, bereavement, or certain absences related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers with 9 or less employees are required to provide unpaid leave for the same reasons. If the employee is eligible and the leave reason also qualifies under the federal FMLA or Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), then absence should be tracked concurrently.

Employees begin accruing sick time at the start of employment and are eligible for use on the 91st day. Employers can either offer accrual at the rate of 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked or front-load the time, i.e., make all sick time available for use upon the employee’s 91st day. An employee can use up to 40 hours or 5 days per year but an employer can limit accrual to 80 hours per year as long as the accrued time to carries over to subsequent years (up to 40 hours carry over).

An employer with a sick leave policy, paid vacation policy, paid personal time policy or other paid time off program that is substantially equivalent or more generous is deemed to be in compliance with Oregon’s paid sick time law.

An employer can require that the employee follow the employer’s absence policies regarding notice of the need for time off and if the absence is foreseeable, the employee must provide reasonable advance notice, up to 10 days. If the absence is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable.

Reed Group is updating LeaveAdvisor™ with this new law so that you can have the details at your fingertips and as questions arise. LeaveAdvisor subscribers not only have the benefit of searchable online content for FMLA and other state and federal absence laws, it also includes a nifty “Pending Legislation” tool, which tracks, summarizes and reports on introduced and pending absence legislation in all 50 states, The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the federal government. For a free LeaveAdvisor trial, click here.

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