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Mandatory Sick Leave

What businesses operating in Oregon need to know now

Mandatory sick leave went into effect on January 2016. Employees earn one hour for every 30 worked up to a maximum of 40 hours per year.

For businesses of ten or more employees in Oregon, sick time must be paid. For businesses with less than Under ten employees in Oregon, sick time can be unpaid. There is a special exception to this rule for Cities greater than 500,000 people, which is only Portland as of now. Their threshold is six employess in determining whether sick time is paid or unpaid.

The use of this sick leave goes beyond what is considered traditional illnesses to include things such as routine appointments, public health emergencies, and absensences provided by the Oregon Family Leave Act and Oregon Domestic Violence Leave Act.

If you already have a paid time off policy in place, it is subject to the same guidelines.

The rules permit an employer to adopt a frontloading system that gives the employee the entire amount of leave at the beginning of the year (either January 1st or their anniversary date depending on policy). You can have different methods for different categories of employee (Exempt vs. Non-Exempt, Regular vs. Seasonal, Full-time vs. Part-time). You may want to offer exempt employees the frontloaded leave but have non-exempt employees accrue their leave.
 
The law does not require that accrued leave be cashed out at termination. However, if an employee is rehired within 180 days, their leave must be re-credited back to them and made immediately available for use.

Employers need to familiarize themselves with the law and provide notice of protections. Employers must also provide notice of accrued leave to employees no less than quarterly. An easy way to do this is to put in place a system to include it on pay stubs.

If you want to be a proactive employer, you should also train supervisors and administrators who are managing absences so they can be aware of these protections and help ensure that you are in compliance.