We previously advised you that the Portland City Council was considering an ordinance that would require Portland employers to provide sick leave to employees. The Council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance on Wednesday, meaning that Portland will now join a handful of jurisdictions (including Connecticut, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.) that require employers to give employees time off for illness. Similar bills have also been introduced in the state legislature, although it is too soon to predict whether they will pass.

The Portland ordinance, which takes effect on January 1, 2014, generally requires private employers to provide 40 hours of sick leave per year to eligible employees. For employers with six or more employees, the time must be paid; for smaller businesses, leave may be unpaid. Employers that already provide sick leave equivalent to or in excess of what the ordinance requires do not need to make any changes.

The ordinance exempts federal, state and local governments (except the City of Portland), and applies only to employees that work within city limits for at least 240 hours per calendar year. These employees must accrue at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, and must be permitted to use any accrued leave after 90 calendar days of employment. Employees are also entitled to carry over up to 40 hours of unused leave into subsequent years.

The ordinance contains posting and record-keeping requirements for employers, and delegates enforcement powers to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. The City is expected to draft rules providing further guidance prior to implementation, for which there will be a public review process. In the meantime, employers looking ahead to next year should assess their current sick leave policies and determine whether any changes will be needed.