Oregon Sick Leave Law: The Ultimate Guide

Cody Cromwell
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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, HB 4105 is an act that gives Oregon employers little freedom to punish employees for missing work due to a coronavirus. What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Although cases of coronavirus have been identified in several states including California, this is the first proposed law to ban employers from firing employees who have the virus.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives Oregon employers no choice but to give workers an unpaid or reduction in their paid sick leave when they are infected with coronavirus.

The following is the Family First Coronavirus Response Act for the state of Oregon.

“If any employee of an employer is infected with the P17 strain of coronavirus and has sufficient leave accrued or acquired, that employee shall have the right to use up to three days unpaid or three days of paid sick leave and continue in his or her position….”

And

“If an employee has insufficient accrued or acquired leave in the private employee benefits fund and the employer is satisfied with accommodations, such as modified work shift, administrative leave, time off with pay, and/or temporary transfer, then no additional action shall be necessary, and the employer shall continue to provide access to health and safety protections for employees.”

How Oregon Paid Sick Leave Works

How Oregon & Federal Sick Leave Laws Differ

Oregon vs Federal Sick Leave Rules

The State of Oregon does not have any extended sick leave laws. Any employee who wants extended sick leave in Oregon must get it through a combination of vacation time, personal leave (PTO) and sick leave.

In other words, the best way for an employee to take unpaid sick leave in Oregon is on vacation time. This gives the employee the most flexibility. The only exception to this rule is in the case of workers who earn pay while they are on other forms of leave, such as sick leave, bereavement leave, or jury duty. Employees who earn pay during their paid time off cannot use vacation time, PTO, or bereavement leave while they are on leave.

Oregon employers are not required to hold vacation or sick leave for the purpose of paying the employee. Check Oregon law for information about paid sick leave in Oregon.

Federal & State Laws That Affect Paid Sick Leave in Oregon

The Obama administration’s 2016 signing of the Healthy Families Act took strides toward providing employees paid sick leave. Federal employees are already provided paid sick leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but the FFELA provides a more stringent standard for the private sector than the FMLA. Paid sick leave is now required for all private sector employees who have worked at least six months in a calendar year under the new federal law.

For more on sick leave, check out the report, Paid Sick Leave: When Work Doesn’t Make You Better.

How to Calculate Sick Leave in Oregon

Sick leave in the state of Oregon is a statutory leave granted to employees who are physically disabled or ill during working hours. Sick leave for employees in the state of Oregon is given to employees who are truly incapable of working. Sick leave is a form of paid time off, which takes the place of vacation or sick time taken. Sick leave must be used within three years of being accrued. Employers are responsible for accepting sick leave upon request. They also must give sick leave and its accrual while an employee is receiving and recovering from sick leave.

An employee who takes sick leave must be paid for a day of sick leave for each day that he or she is physically disabled or ill as a result of injury or illness.

Employees who are allowed to use sick days must exercise proper sick leave during the times that they are not physically disabled and ill, but are available for work.

Employers in the state of Oregon are also required to give employees two days of sick leave per year. The state legislature has mandated that if an employee becomes physically disabled and indigent, they must also be given a day of sick leave.

Hourly Employee Sick Leave Accrual

Oregon employees are entitled to one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. For the first 80 hours worked, the employees ‑ at least first – may use sick leave as they would days off. ***" After 80 hours worked, an employee may use sick leave only for personal illness or illness in the immediate families or that of the employee.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), supplies a sick leave calculator for employees to use when calculating their sick leave entitlement. Your employer can also supply a mandatory sick leave calculator to aid in this calculation.

But I’ve noticed that there are always confused/lost employees who just cannot figure out the calculation, and in this post I want to help them in the same way I was helped.

For the purpose of BOLI’s sick leave calculator, the employer is the person who schedules the hours worked by an employee and thus has control over how many hours the employee works. The BOLI model sick leave accrual calculation figures out how many hours an employee should have accrual for sick leave for up to 80 hours worked per week, for the purposes of calculating sick leave.

Salaried Employee Sick Leave Accrual

Piece-work Sick Leave Accrual Rate

In Oregon, you will be entitled to different sick leave rates for the quarter depending on the type of leave you take. Oregon is one of only four states, which allow employers to automatically allot 4 days of sick leave after 90 days of employment. It does not matter whether you were hired as an employee, independent contractor, called employee, or whether you started work for the company before, during, or after July 1, 2015. To learn more about the law, see 17 ORS 652.525.

For more information on how to record sick leave accruals within QuickBooks, see the article from Devon Insurance Group. For more information on how to budget sick leave within QuickBooks, see the article from Northwest Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Commission-work Sick Leave Accrual Rate

While part-time employees generally accrue sick leave at a rate based on the number of hours they work, full-time employees may have access to an "accrual" rate, usually between 1.25% and 1.5% of their annual earnings. You may also be able to use the accrual rate if you work under the Oregon Mandatory Sick Leave Law (ORS 243.734(2)) and the irregular hours are a few hours per day every few months. For example, if you work 3-4 days a week for 4 hours a day every other week, that qualifies as "irregular hours."

Regardless, nothing less than 1% of annual income can be used for sick leave, with a few exceptions. If, for any reason, you don’t work one week, you still have to use 1/15th of your sick time; if you work 1 1/2 weeks, you must use 1 3/15th; if you work 2 11/15ths, 1 4/15th; and so on.

How to Comply With Oregon Paid Sick Leave Laws

The state of Oregon recently implemented a law requiring employers with twenty-five or more employees to provide workers with paid sick leave. The law went into effect in June 2009, and employers have until January 1, 2015, to comply with the law. There are a number of exemptions to the law, in case you contract out your work, work as a temporary employee, or are self-employed. But in all other cases, employers with more than twenty-five employees, including your company, must comply with the law.

The law requires workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours worked by an employee. The law also exempts certain occupations, including firefighters and their family members; first responders and their family members; the Oregon National Guard and its members; and senior employees (defined as those working at least eighteen hundred hours per year).

If an employer does not allow its employees to use sick days, it will be in violation of the law. The law does not require employees to carry over unused sick leave, so employees can use all of their available sick leave at any given time.

Before you start organizing or implementing any paid leave plan, we recommend that you consult with your attorney to ensure that all laws are complied with.

Oregon Sick Leave Policy Considerations

When you go to work, you’re putting in your best effort to solve a problem that can’t be solved until you’re at work. You’re putting in the effort to get the job done.

For you to be able to do your job, the business must be well run. Because of that, the company must take good care of their employees.

Companies generally want to hire the best and the brightest. But when you’re sick, the company is obligated to give you that time off. It’s the right thing to do.

There are times when you might need to take time off work even when all your co-workers are working. But you’re not going to be able to fix a problem that only you have.

That’s the point of an employer’s sick leave policy. It makes sure you’re taken care of and that you can take the time off as necessary. It can be inconvenient for the company and costly for the business, but it’s important for you to take time off when you’re sick.

So why should you choose Oregon as the place where you want to start your professional career?

Front-Load vs Accrual Options for Providing Sick Leave Hours

If you or your existing employer is taking advantage of the new state legislation that has been enacted for employers in the state of Oregon, there are a couple of options that you can utilize in order to ensure that your employees are receiving the proper sick leave hours that they are entitled to.

Management must give notices to their employees as required by the new law.

Employers in Oregon must allow their employees time off for the purpose of using the sick leave which will allow them to properly use the time off that must be given by their employer. These time off notices are different than other kinds of time off notices.

The following is a description of these professional and sick leave notices, which are used by employers in the state of Oregon.

Of the options for providing sick leave to employees in Oregon, front-loading is the best option. Front-loading does not guarantee that an employee will be able to access the sick leave hours that they need, but it does give them the best chance for being able to access these hours.

Sick Leave Time Off Increments

Oregon employers are required to provide employees with 1.5 hours of "usable" leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 40 hours per week.

It is important to understand that the use of sick leave is non-discretionary; Oregon law only requires paid time off be provided for employees.

(Oregon is one of the few states that requires paid sick leave; most states that have such laws require unpaid sick leave. Nearly half of the states in the United States, including Florida, do not require employers to give paid sick leave.) The use of vacation and personal days is also not required to be paid.

Employers can choose which employee categories are covered by the law’s paid sick leave requirements. A few examples include employers who:

  • Employ fewer than 10 employees
  • Operate a farm with less than 6 employees

Employ a domestic (i.e. worker who is employed by a household member)

Employ a Family Member Working on an Independent Contract or Retainer Basis

Employ a full-time employee who is under the direct supervision of a foreign national (i.e. a foreign worker)

Employ a Seasonal Worker

Employ workers performing work for the state, a county, or a city.

Paid Time Off vs Sick Leave

When NOT to Use either

In my region, we have a two-tiered sick-leave system for employers who offer it. Neither of these leaves guarantee that you will be paid after the fact. It all depends on the language in your employee handbook.

It all depends on the language in your employee handbook.

Either, you have a policy providing for your employees to use their sick leave, vacation, or other forms of paid time off to care for a loved one who is ill. Or in the case of Oregon, it's called "Sick Leave."

Then this leads to questions. When can I use neither and just get fired when I know I'm sick? "I can't afford to take sick leave," or "I can't afford to be away when other people need me."

When Sick Leave Isn't the Real Reason for Your No-Show

It's not an either/or situation. If you're not using sick leave because of your own illness, but because of a personal or family emergency, you can usually afford to miss a couple of days, but not a week or more.

You're allowed to use your sick leave for personal illness as long as your employer has a similar policy for regular employees.

City of Portland Expansion on State Sick Leave

On July 9, 2007, the City of Portland became the first city in the country to expand the state’s sick leave law to more employees.

On September 4, 2005, Portland became the first city in the state of Oregon to extend its state’s sick leave law to more employees. More than 500 of the city’s approximately 18,000 employees were added to the law, which is a minimum requirement of up to five to 10 days paid sick leave.

In 2007, the City of Portland expanded its original sick leave law to more of its employees, while reaffirming that its sick leave law would always comply with state law. However, the city’s mayor was faced with a dilemma when Oregon’s sick leave laws extended only to Portland’s employees. This dilemma? Should the city’s mayor expand the state’s sick leave law to only Portland’s employees? The City of Portland’s expansion on the sick leave law caused the state’s governor to take a different and unpopular approach to creating a new sick leave law.

Oregon Sick Leave vs Portland

Oregon Sick Leave Law is one of the most important work laws Oregon has and it may impact your employees and agency overall in a positive manner. It is also one of the most difficult laws to administrate and many agencies are still confused as to what this law really entails and how to properly administrate it.

Oregon Sick Leave Law is also a law that you must administer in order to be in compliance with the law.

Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law

Oregon Sick Leave Law requires that employers provide paid leave to employees in cases when they or a family member are sick. Sometimes these days it may also be known as Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law.

Further to being in compliance with the state law, you must also be in compliance with the federal law in order to be in compliance with both laws. This double standard is perhaps the most challenging thing to dealing with and will require an incredible amount of KPI management.

For more information about Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law just go to the Wikipedia page which is as comprehensive as it gets article wise.

Oregon Sick Leave Law is based on the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

You must provide eligible employees up to thirty (30) days of paid sick leave per year.

Paid sick leave includes:

Sick Leave Risks to Oregon Employers

The law requires employers to grant employees one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. An employer may specify a lesser amount of leave.

Employees are responsible for providing 24-hour advance notice when taking sick leave.

Employees are entitled to up to 104 hours of sick leave annually.

Restrictions

Employees cannot use sick leave for the following:

  • Personal illness
  • Illness of family members
  • Non-work related injury or condition

§ 26.165․103:

A public employer or a private employer may not discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee because the employee has filed or may file a claim under this section or belongs to a class or group of employees that has filed such a claim.

NO RETALIATION PROVISION

Employees cannot be punished or discharged because they took sick leave.

You May Be Filing Your Own Claim

That is, you might be filing your own sick leave claim if you believe you were fired for taking sick leave or subject to other retaliation.

You may also file a claim if you believe you were entitled to sick leave but were denied it.

In some cases, private employers help pay for disability short-term disability insurance, which is similar to sick leave.

Defining "Family members":

"Family members" can include any of the following :

Lack of Compliance with Sick Leave Laws

"As far as we can tell, 99% of companies in Oregon are not in compliance with the state’s sick leave law," said Gordon Wheeler, an attorney for the firm Wheeler Law Group, ”the most generous in the country, with 10 days per year for most employees.

In other words, 99% of companies in Oregon, and maybe the country, are illegally denying their employees sick leave courtesy.

And because there’s no penalty for breaking the law, most businesses stick to the letter of the law rather than the spirit and try to avoid parental leave policies altogether. But the lack of employee protections can be harmful to employees and businesses alike.

Other Risks

Of Sick Leave There are a number of risks employees face when on sick leave. For example, when employees are on sick leave, their co-workers typically end up covering more work. This results in an increase in stress for the co-workers, who may feel compelled to pick up the slack for the employee’s absence by putting in extra hours.

While the employee is taking sick leave, they are not able to communicate with their co-workers, making it difficult for the co-workers to help cover the responsibilities of the sick employee.

As a result, employees on sick leave are less likely to get back to work. Therefore, they are not able to show up for work on time, which can affect their company’s productivity.

If employees on sick leave aren’t prepared, they can also experience stress when they attempt to return to work. For example, they can experience anxiety about the amount of work that they need to do to cover the duties that they have missed while they were off sick.

Employees can also experience stress by simply being in a new environment. Employees who are in new environments often feel anxious. If an employee is traveling to a new location to work, they are likely to feel more discomfort about their work environment. As a result, they can experience anxiety and may not be able to focus on the work on hand.

Bottom Line

The Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law

Among the many things Oregon has to offer, its registry for employees is one of the top. Oregon mandates that all employees be registered with the Employees’ Compensation Board, a top-notch form of record-keeping that makes finding employment easier and more efficient. As of June 15, 2011, this successful state plan became a model to other U.S. states, which have followed the validity of the plan. This includes the creation of the Employee Protection, Medical Leave, and Sick Leave laws.

The implementation of Oregon Sick Leave Law (Oregon PEL) was introduced because of the dwindling amount of paid sick leave in the state and was created for workers’ rights and labor rights. Oregon PEL was introduced in the Oregon Senate Bill SB 728, and followed by Senate Bill SB 722. The bills were signed on June 30, 2014.

Oregon PEL was then followed by House Bill 2003, which was passed on March 15, 2015. These laws were proposed as a solution to the growing number of underemployed and underpaid workers. Employees would be able to earn paid sick leave for illness, injury, and the need to care for a sick child, and more employees would be able to care for and tend to their own health as well.