Eugene, Oregon Moving Ahead With Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Following the lead of larger cities like Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco, the City Council of Eugene, Oregon is moving ahead with plans for a mandatory sick leave ordinance. Following the presentation of a 70-page Task Force report on June 18, the Council voted to draft a formal ordinance for consideration at its next meeting in July.

Likely features of the draft ordinance include:

• Employees who perform work in Eugene, even if only periodically, will have the right to accrue and use sick leave regardless of where their employer is actually located. This will impose obligations and potential liability on businesses outside of Eugene.

• While unpaid leave may be mandated for small employers, paid sick leave will be required for all others.

• The ordinance will mandate accrual of sick leave at a rate of at least 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. This is the same rate used by Portland, which has caused many employers to have to modify their fringe benefit plans.

• Accrual will need to begin at the start of employment, but employees will not have access to sick leave until they have been employed at least 90 days.

• Unlike Portland, the Eugene ordinance may exempt employers that have collectively bargained for sick leave. The lack of such an exemption in Portland has been the source of considerable frustration.

• Violations of the ordinance may be remedied through administrative complaints, and possibly via private lawsuits.

• The effective date will be July 1, 2015.

Will It Pass?

As one of two dissenting members of the Eugene City Council noted at the last meeting, “[t]his is kind of preordained…. We are going to pass this.”

What Is the Next Step in This Process?

Eugene’s City Council voted not to send a proposed ordinance to voters in November of this year. Accordingly, it seems likely that the draft ordinance will come to a vote on July 28, 2014. If and when that happens, we will provide more comprehensive guidance on the law’s requirements and the necessary steps to achieve compliance.

Note: This article was published in the June 26, 2014 issue of the Oregon eAuthority.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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