Oregon’s New Statewide Paid Sick Time Law

In January, Oregon became one of a handful of states to mandate that employers provide paid sick time for all eligible employees.  Covered employees accrue one hour of sick time leave for each 30 hours worked and sick time may be used for the employee’s own illness, to care for a sick family member, or to care for an infant, newly adopted child, or foster child.

However, not all employers are covered. Covered employers include all employers with an average of 10 or more employees per day in Oregon. For Portland employers, the threshold is lower, as any employer with an average of six or more employees per day in Oregon is covered if the employer maintains an Oregon location in a any city with a population greater than 500,000 (i.e., in Portland).

Employers must notify employees of the sick time law and provide quarterly notices of accrued and unused sick time available for use by the employee. The vast majority of Oregon’s workforce is covered by the law, meaning full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers will accrue sick time.

Interference with, or retaliation for, the use of sick time is an unlawful employment practice under Oregon law. To enforce the law, one can file a claim with BOLI, who is authorized to assess civil penalties for any violations of the law. In addition or in lieu of filing with BOLI, one can also file a lawsuit in circuit court for violation of the state sick leave law. However the remedies available are equitable, including back pay, and one does not have a right to emotional distress damages or to a jury trial for such a claim.

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