Q&A with Lindsay N. Malachowski, Attorney at Law.

Are You Ready for Oregon’s New Sick Leave Law?

 Beginning January 1, 2016, most Oregon employers will be required to offer sick leave to employees.

Who is affected?

 Employers with fewer than 10 employees will generally be required to offer up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave to employees.  Those employers with 10 or more employees will generally be required to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick leave.  Limited exceptions apply.  (Please note, due to a previously-enacted local law, Portland employers have a 6-employee threshold.)

What if an employer already provides sick leave for employees?

 If you already provide your employees with time off through a paid leave policy (e.g. PTO), you will not be required to provide additional paid sick leave.  However, your existing policy must meet the minimum requirements of the law.

Can employees use “sick leave” even if they are not sick?

 Under the new law, employees can use sick leave (paid or unpaid) for various purposes beyond the employee’s own health condition, injury, illness, or preventative care.  Examples include bereavement leave, sick child leave, leave to care for a family member, leave for any purpose permitted under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), and leave permitted under Oregon’s domestic violence and harassment laws.

How is time accrued?

 Generally, employees accrue sick leave at a rate of one and one-third hours for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year.  Employees will start to accrue this sick leave on January 1, 2016 or on their first day of employment, if hired after January 1, 2016.

How should employers prepare?

 Review your current leave policies to ensure you are in compliance with the new law for all employees.  It is possible you may have to amend current policies to meet the minimum requirements and/or extend your policies to more employees.  Review your employee handbook to make the appropriate additions or changes, and consult with your attorney.

Lindsay N. (Briggs) Malachowski, Smith, Davison & Brasier, PC, (541) 752-6416.