WE DID IT!
On March 13, 2013 Portland became the 4th U.S. city to adopt a paid sick days law!
On March 13, 2013 the Mayor and City Commissioners of Portland, Oregon voted unanimously (5 to 0) to implement an earned sick time policy that will enable people who work in the city to earn sick time while they work, making Portland the 4th U.S. city to enact such a policy. The state of Connecticut and approximately 145 countries have also adopted paid sick leave standards. This is a big forward step for Portland’s economy – and all the people it touches — that will help employees better manage their work and health simultaneously, without jeopardizing one or the other.
The policy will be effective January 1, 2014 and apply to all employers whose employees work 240 or more hours per year in the city. Part-time and full-time workers will accrue paid sick and safe time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked and be able to access it after 90 days on the job. For employers with five or fewer employees the time will be job-protected but not paid, and for employers with six or more employees the time will be both paid and job-protected. Accrued time will not roll over from calendar year to calendar year, nor will it be cashed out upon separation. Time can be used to care for oneself, a family member, or to handle domestic violence issues. [Read the final policy here: http://bit.ly/PdxFinalPolicy]
Everybody Benefits Coalition Coordinator and Family Forward Oregon Executive Director Andrea Paluso is pleased with both the process and the final policy:
“What an exciting moment for Portland! Our elected officials are leading our city toward a more just and healthy economy that works for more Portlanders. I am pleased both with the road that brought us to this historic vote and with the final policy the Portland City Council has put forth – refined with deep and broad stakeholder input.
Passing this policy brings us that much closer to a place where today’s employees can both provide for and responsibly care for their health and their families. Of course workers all across Oregon won’t benefit from this local policy, which is why we are already working closely with our state legislators toward a similar earned sick time law that will make Oregon’s entire workforce – and the economy it drives – healthier.”
Once Portland workers begin earning sick time in 2014, the whole community will benefit. Here’s how:
1. EARNED SICK DAYS ARE GOOD FOR PUBLIC HEALTH.
It’s a fact: illnesses spread in workplaces. During the H1N1 epidemic, an estimated seven million cases were contracted at work from people who came to work sick. The federal CDC asked them to stay home to prevent contagion, but that can be hard to do without earned sick time.
Yet, 40% of people working in the Portland area have no earned sick leave – including thousands of local grocery stores, restaurants and medical centers.
74% of food service workers in the Portland area have no paid sick leave, even though handling food is one of the fastest ways to spread illness.
2. EARNED SICK DAYS ARE GOOD FOR FAMILIES.
The last thing many families can afford to lose is a day’s pay – especially these days. Even one day without pay can prevent a family from affording rent, a medical co-pay, or a heating bill.
Earned sick time helps people stay in their jobs. A recent study showed that 16% of workers had actually been fired from their job for taking time off due to personal illness or to care for an ill family member.
Working parents with paid time off are five times likelier to stay home to care for a sick child than those without paid time off. Sick kids should recover at home.
3. EARNED SICK DAYS ARE GOOD FOR BUSINESS.
Employers save money by allowing workers to earn paid sick days. How can this be? Employees who stay home when sick are actually more productive than employees who work when sick. In fact, “presenteeism” – when workers come to work sick – costs employers an average of $255 per employee per year.
Workers take a median of only three sick days a year, even when they’ve earned more. And 9 of 10 employers rarely or never need to hire replacement workers when employees use sick leave.
A minimum standard for earning sick days levels the playing field for employers who already provide this benefit. In San Francisco, where all workers have been earning sick leave since the 2007 ordinance, fully 2/3 of the businesses support the policy.
 Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)
4 Jody Heymann Forgotten Families (from Denver sheet)
5 Vicky Lovell, Valuing Good Health: An Estimate of Costs and Savings for the Healthy Families Act, Institute of Women’s Policy Research, 2005.
6 Christine Siegwarth Meyer, et al, Work-Family Benefits: Which Ones Maximize Profits? Journal of Managerial Issues, vol. 13, no. 1, Spring 2001