Portland Passes Mandatory Sick Leave Ordinance

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On March 13, Portland became the fourth city to pass a mandatory sick leave ordinance, joining Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and the state of Connecticut. The new law takes effect January 1, 2014, but will likely have significant impact on private sector employers, requiring them to prepare well in advance of the new year. Many employers operating in Seattle faced substantial challenges when modifying their policies to comply with the 2011 Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance, on which the Portland ordinance appears to be modeled. Private sector employers with Portland operations, or whose employees perform work in Portland, are therefore encouraged to carefully review this new law along with their existing policies and practices so that they are prepared to comply when the law becomes effective.

Portland Sick Leave Ordinance Requires Sick Leave for All Employees Who Work in Portland at Least 240 Hours in a Calendar Year -

The new law requires all private sector employers with at least six employees to provide employees who work at least 240 hours in a calendar year up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. All employees, whether temporary, part time, or full time, are entitled to accrue and use this leave, so long as they meet the 240-hour minimum. Employers with a maximum of five employees are still required to provide up to 40 hours of sick leave, but the leave may be unpaid. As of January 1, 2014, all employees will be entitled to accrue sick leave at the minimum rate of one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. For purposes of accrual, exempt white collar employees are presumed to work 40 hours a week. Sick leave begins to accrue when employment begins, but employers may require employees hired after January 1, 2014, to wait up to 90 days before using their accrued sick leave. All other employees can use their accrued sick leave immediately. A paid time off (“PTO”) plan or policy will achieve compliance with the ordinance, provided that it meets the minimum accrual rates, and the leave may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as sick leave prescribed by the ordinance.

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