Effective Jan 1 2014: Portland Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. What Does It Mean To You?

Starting with the New Year, employers in Portland will be expected to follow new rules regarding sick leave for employees.   The ordinance, passed in March 2013 by the City Council, has been supplemented with regulations drafted by the City Attorney’s Office.  Employers in Portland will be expected to follow both the ordinance and the applicable regulations.

Which employers are affected by the ordinance?

The ordinance covers private-sector employers, including the owners of most Portland-area businesses.  The specific rules an employer must follow depend on how many employees it has and where those employees work.

As a rule, employers will be required to provide one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours a covered employee works.  If the employer has six or more employees, the sick leave provided under the ordinance must be paid.

Who is a covered employee?

A “covered employee” is an employee who works at least 240 hours in a calendar year and who is considered an employee for the purposes of state wage payment, minimum wage, and overtime laws.

Generally speaking, employees must also work within Portland to be covered.  An employee whose home office is outside Portland but who regularly travels into Portland to perform job duties is covered for the time the employee spends within Portland.  Likewise, if an employee’s home office is in Portland but he or she travels outside Portland to work, the employee is covered only for the time he or she spends in Portland.

How is sick time accrued?

Sick time begins to accrue on January 1, 2014, or, at the start of the employee’s employment if hired after January 1, 2014, whether or not the employee has already worked 240 hours for the employer.  Sick time accrues at the rate of one hour per 30 hours worked.  Both regular work hours and overtime hours count toward the 30-hour limit, if the employee is covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or state wage laws.  Sick time use may run concurrently with other periods of leave, such as leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

How can our business prepare for these changes?

Employers can take several steps to prepare for these changes, including:

  • Reviewing and revising sick leave and/or paid time off (PTO) procedures,
  • Double-checking that timekeeping, payroll, and benefits systems accurately track the work time and sick time taken by employees,
  • Training managers and human resources personnel on how to implement the new rules,
  • Talking to your staffing partner about how the changes will affect temporary, part-time, and direct-hire employees.

The experienced recruiters at TERRA Staffing can help you navigate changes in human resources and employment to ensure you find the top talent you need while staying within the bounds of the law.  Contact us today to learn more!

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