Understanding the Oregon sick leave law
Oregon recently made history, becoming the fourth state in the nation to require employers to provide paid sick leave. The law, Oregon Senate Bill 454, took effect January 1, 2016, and requires employers to provide paid or unpaid sick leave to employees based on the number of people in their employment.
While the details are nuanced, this article will outline the important information you need in order to ensure your company is in compliance.
Who is eligible under Oregon’s sick leave law?
Employers that already provide their employees paid time off under a PTO, vacation or other paid leave policy are not required to provide any additional paid sick time under this law, provided they permit employees to use at least 40 hours of leave per year and meet the below minimum requirements.
- All employees, regardless of whether they are temporary, part time, full time, salaried, or paid on a commission basis, began accruing sick leave as of January 1, 2016. There are limited exceptions, including independent contractors and individuals employed by their parent, spouse or child.
Employers with 10 or more employees (six or more for Portland employers) will be required to provide their employees who work in Oregon paid sick leave.
Employers with fewer than 10 employees (fewer than six for Portland employers) will also be required to provide sick leave, but it can be unpaid.
What are the minimum sick leave requirements?
There are two options for determining the amount of sick leave employees earn:
The accrual method: Employees earn at least one hour for every 30 hours worked, beginning on their first day of employment. Under this method, employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time from one year into the next year.
The front-loading method: Employers may provide employees with sick time or PTO at the beginning of the year, known as front-loading, instead of on an accrual basis. Such employers are exempt from the carryover obligations of the law.
How can I use available sick leave?
Employees hired before January 1, 2016, may begin taking leave in one-hour increments as it is accrued.
New employees hired after January 1, 2016, may use their sick leave after 90 days of employment.
An employee’s annual use of sick time under the law may be capped by employers at 40 hours.
Employees must be informed of their unused sick leave balance at least quarterly.
Employers are not required to pay employees for accrued but unused sick leave upon separation from employment.
What counts as sick leave?
Leave may be taken not only for the employee’s own illness, injury or preventative medical care, but also for a qualifying family member’s similar needs.
A “family member” is defined to include the employee’s spouse, children, parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, and registered same-sex domestic partners.
Sick leave may also be taken for absences resulting from workplace or school closures, or for reasons related to domestic violence or stalking, that affect the employee or employee’s family.
Sick leave may also be taken for traditional “baby bonding leave” to care for an infant or newly adopted child, or to grieve the death of a family member, make funeral arrangements, and make arrangements necessitated by the family member’s death.
Oregon sick leave facts
The law supersedes all local sick leave ordinances (Portland and Eugene).
An employer can ask for medical certification for a sick leave period of three days or more, or if they observe a “pattern of abuse” by an employee.
Oregon sick leave has no cash value upon termination, but if you rehire an employee within 180 days of the original termination, you must restore the employee’s unused sick leave balance.
Covered employers will be required to post a notice describing the new law.
All employers across the state were expected to be in compliance with this law by January 1, 2016. Contact Pittman & Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503.684.9233 for specific questions about implementation or compliance.