Sep 08 2014

Eugene Passes Paid Sick Days Ordinance


On July 28th the Eugene City Council voted 5-3 to enact a paid sick time ordinance very similar to the ordinance that took effect earlier this year in Portland. Eugene’s ordinance will take effect July 1, 2015 and, like Portland’s ordinance, the Eugene law will require that workers can accrue sick time at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours in a year. Sick time accrual is required to begin July 1, 2015 or on the first day an employee works, but workers will not be able to use accrued sick time until 90 days after July 1 or their first day of work.

Although largely similar, two key differences between Portland’s ordinance and Eugene’s ordinance are:

  1. Eugene’s ordinance will require paid sick time for all employees, regardless of employer size. In contrast, Portland’s ordinance requires unpaid sick time for workers who work for an employer with 5 or fewer total employees and paid sick time for workers whose employer has 6 or more employees; and
  2. Eugene’s ordinance provides an exemption for all building and construction trade employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement (this exemption applies only to construction workers under a CBA and does not extend to office staff or other employees).

While the Council passed the basic framework of the law, they left a number of issues to be worked out in administration rules – critical issues like record keeping requirements, enforcement mechanisms and procedures, travel inside and outside city boundaries, and evaluating equivalent policies that meet the requirements of the law remain unresolved; the ordinance specifies that rules be adopted by Jan. 31, 2015. After more specific details on the ordinance requirements are established through rulemaking, the City plans to do training sessions for businesses and other outreach to the community (February-June 2015).

Expect a legal battle, however. The week before the Eugene ordinance passed, Lane County Commissioners passed a measure to bar any city within Lane County from passing local laws that mandate any employment conditions, including wages and benefits. The challenge will likely happen after the sick leave law takes effect and, while the outcome is not certain, Lane County’s own staff attorney advised that it was likely not in the County’s jurisdiction or ability to enforce such a measure.

In addition to the links to the actual ordinance language for both cities (provided at the top of the article), there is also a general overview of Portland’s ordinance, specific to building and construction trades. The City of Portland has also produced a list of resources and FAQs. Look here for more detailed information on Eugene’s ordinance as soon as rules are adopted.