New Oregon Sick Leave Law

Lowe, Lee AnnEffective January 1, 2016, all Oregon employers are required to implement sick leave for all employees. Here is what you need to know about the new law:

  • All employers within the state of Oregon with 10 or more employees must have a policy allowing employees to accrue and use up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. Employers with less than 10 employees must allow employees to accrue and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per year. An employer can allow sick leave to be front-loaded rather than accrued. For workers employed on January 1, 2016 sick time can be used as it is earned. For workers who begin employment after January 1, 2016, earned sick time cannot be used until after the 90th day of employment.
  • Employees are entitled to carry forward up to 40 hours of unused sick time; however, employers can adopt a policy with an 80-hour limit on earned sick time or limiting the use of sick time to no more than 40 hours per year.
  • Due to the Portland Sick Leave Policy that went into effect in 2014, employers in Portland must continue to follow the “6 employees or more” requirement even once the state-wide law goes into effect.
  • The Oregon Sick Leave law applies to full-time and part-time employees. Only the following workers are not included: employees receiving paid sick time under federal law, independent contractors, work training participants, work-study participants, and railroad workers. In joint employment relationships the primary employer is responsible for providing sick time leave.
  • Employees using paid sick time must be paid at their regular rate of pay. An employer is not required to compensate an employee for accrued unused sick time upon the employee’s termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation of employment.
  • Employees can use sick leave earned for personal illness, personal or family preventative care/doctor appointments, to care for a family member or child, death of a family member, for reasons related to domestic violence or harassment, and public health emergencies.
  • Employees are required to use accrued sick leave in hourly increments, unless to do so would pose an undue hardship on the employer.
  • An employer cannot require an employee to find a replacement or work an alternate shift to make up the use of sick time. Although the employer and the employee can agree to let the employee make up the time he/she was absent without using sick leave.
  • Employees are eligible to use Oregon Sick Leave on the 91st calendar day of employment, but an employer can authorize the use of accrued sick time prior to the 91st
  • Employers with a sick leave policy or other paid time off program that is substantially equivalent to Oregon Sick Leave will be considered in compliance.
  • Employers need to provide employees with written notice of the requirements for Oregon Sick Leave.

For more specifics please view the final BOLI rules on Oregon Sick Time (OAR 839-007) at: http://www.oregon.gov/boli/Legal/docs/839-007_Final_Rules.pdf or Oregon Laws Ch. 537, 2015 at: http://www.oregon.gov/boli/TA/docs/2015%20Oregon%20Sick%20Leave%20statute.pdf

BOLI has also posted FAQS about Oregon Sick Time and a notice employers can use to comply with the general notice requirement under the new law: http://www.oregon.gov/boli/WHD/OST/Documents/Sick-Time-Poster.pdf

If you have questions about the new law you can contact me at: llowe@sbhlegal.com