Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law

map-40179_1280Effective January 1, 2016 Oregon employers will be required to provide up to 40 hours of sick leave to employees.

Employers with 10 or more employees will be required to provide their employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. In Portland, the existing law still remains and employers with 6 or more employees are required to provide each employee with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.

Smaller employers with fewer than 10 employees (or fewer than 6 in Portland) are required to provide up to 40 hours of sick leave per year, however it can be unpaid.

Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to the sick leave and the law also applies to temporary and seasonal employees.  There are some exceptions including independent contractors, individuals employed by a parent, spouse or child, and employees receiving paid sick leave under federal law.

For employers who already have a paid sick leave, vacation, PTO, or other paid time off policy no additional leave is required to be provided as long as the current policy meets all of the requirements of the law.

Employees must accrue sick time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked up to 40 hours total per year. For purposes of calculating hours, exempt employees should be treated as working 40 hours per week unless their normal work week is less than 40 hours.  Accrual should begin on an employee’s first day of employment, however new employees are not entitled to use their accrued sick leave until their 91st day of employment (unless the employer authorizes early use).

For employers who give sick time on an accrual basis each pay or each month, at the end of the year, an employee must be allowed to carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time each year.  Employers who give employees a lump sum sick time bank at the beginning of the year are not required to allow carry over into the next year.

Upon separation of employment, employers are not required to pay out unused sick time to terminating employees.

Employers are required to provide employees with the balance of sick leave time available at least once per quarter. This requirement can be satisfied by providing the sick leave balance on regular payroll check stubs or statements.  There is also a requirement to notify employees of the requirements of the new law.  The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) will be releasing a template to meet these new notification requirements.

Employees can use the sick leave for their own illness or health condition as well as to care for a family member with an illness or health condition.  In addition, employees can use this sick leave for any reason allowed under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), any purpose allowed under Oregon’s domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking law, or in the event of a public health emergency.

If an employee misses 3 or more consecutive days of work, an employer may require verification from a healthcare professional to excuse the absences. Any costs associated with the verification that are not covered by a health care plan must be paid by the employer.

As mentioned above, the city sick leave law for Portland will remain the same, however the city sick leave law for Eugene has been repealed and Eugene employers will follow the Oregon state sick leave law requirements effective January 1, 2016.  The new state law prohibits other cities in Oregon from enacting their own separate sick leave laws.

When this law was signed into law on June 22, 2015 Oregon became the fourth state in the US with required sick leave.  The other states who currently have mandatory sick leave requirements are California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

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