Starting in January 2014, workers in the City of Portland will have a new benefit as the result of a city ordinance: legally guaranteed sick time. If your employer has fewer than six employees, you’re entitled to protected but unpaid sick time; if your employer has six or more employees, the sick time must be paid.
Although the ordinance will be helpful for employees who take ill, the City has also highlighted the general public health benefit: “Employers in turn have healthier and more productive workforce due to reduced contagion and turnover, and public health improves.”
The law will allow an employee to earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work during a year, as long as the employee has worked a total of at least 240 hours during that year within the city limits. Portland City Code 9.01.030, 9.01.040. The employer has to create a standard policy to allow the employee to provide appropriate, reasonable notice, such as by calling a phone number in advance of missing a shift for an illness. Portland City Code 9.01.040(H). And the law prohibits retaliation against an employee for using or attempting to use protected sick time. Portland City Code 9.01.050.
Of course, as with any employment law, whether the benefit applies to a specific worker at a specific job depends on the unique circumstances of the case, which is why an employment attorney is critical to helping determine if you are protected. For more information, see the city’s FAQ for employees. Or if you believe you have been denied legally guaranteed sick time, or you suffered retaliation for requesting it, you may contact our firm to discuss your concerns.