Oregon Governor Signs Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Bill Into Law

| by Ethan Brown

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon signed new legislation on July 13 that will require all employers in the state to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave to employees.

“No one should have to work sick because they are afraid of losing their jobs,” Brown said during the ceremonial signing of the legislation yesterday. The legislation was already approved at the end of June, and over 50 people entered her office to witness the July ceremony, the Boise State Public Radio reported.

While the majority of Oregonians will be covered under the new law, there are still some exceptions. For example, students in work study program, state employees and union-represented construction and/or labor workers will not receive the benefits. Also, employers may have some leeway on the amount of sick leave their workers receive. Based on the location of the business, some organizations will not have to provide sick leave if they employ 10 or less people. In Portland, the state’s most populous city, the number declines to fewer than six workers, the Portland Business Journal reported.

The law also limits newly hired employees (after January 1, 2016) in their sick leave time. While new workers will be able to accrue the 40 hours, they will not be able to start using their earned time until after the first 90 days of employment.

Critics are highlighting the technicalities in the law, such as one stipulation that allows workers to be an hour later to work 40 times throughout the year without any punishment, and employers can only request medical documentation if employees are out sick for three consecutive days. According to those opposing the law, these points will lead to an increase in tardy workers. 

The legislation easily passed both state legislative houses, with Democratic majorities in the state House and state Senate. Oregon is now the fourth state that requires businesses to provide some type of paid sick leave relief, after Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts, Reuters reported.

Added in the legislation were new protections for minorities that will better their chance of receiving a job and lessen their chances of being arrested by law enforcement. The new state law bans employers from asking questions about an applicant’s past criminal record when interviewing for a position. Also, the law provides extra protections for minority groups that have been racially profiled by police.

Sources: Boise Public Radio, Reuters, Portland Business Journal

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Ryan Hyde/Flickr