Oregon Legislature Passes Statewide Sick Leave Law

June, 2015

By Ryan Orr, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

On Friday, June 12, the Oregon Legislature passed a statewide sick leave bill that is awaiting the Governor’s signature. While the passage of this bill was expected, the details have been in flux as it has been amended numerous times since introduced. With its passing, we now know the basic requirements.

Coverage and Eligibility

  • The law will go into effect on January 1, 2016 and preempts all local sick leave laws (i.e., employers must continue to comply with Portland and Eugene laws until January 1, 2016).
  • It covers most employees and all employers with one or more employees performing work in Oregon.
  • A PTO policy that satisfies all the other requirements of this law will be deemed compliant.

Eligibility, Accrual and Pay

  • Employees begin accruing sick leave immediately, but an employer can require an employee to work up to 90 days before becoming eligible to use accrued sick leave.
  • Employees must be able to accrue at least 40 hours of sick leave per year at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.
  • For employers with 10 or more employees working in the state, sick leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay.
  • If an employer is located within a city in this state with a population of 500,000 or more (currently only Portland), employers with 6 or more employees – regardless of where in the state those employees work – must provide paid sick leave.
  • For employers with fewer than 10 employees (or fewer than 6 in Portland), an employer must provide unpaid protected sick leave in accordance with the rules of the ordinance.
  • Employers may cap an employee’s total accrued sick leave at 80 hours.

Use and Carryover

  • Employees must be allowed to use at least 40 hours of sick leave per year for any qualifying reason.
  • Qualifying reasons include the illness or injury of the employee or a family member, any OFLA-qualifying reason, any reason for leave under Oregon’s Domestic Violence leave statute, and certain public health emergencies.
  • Sick leave typically must be used in increments of no greater than 1 hour, unless it would be an undue hardship.
  • If an employer provides at least 56 hours of sick leave per year, the employer may require use in increments of no greater than 4 hours.
  • Employees must be allowed to carryover at least 40 hours of sick leave each year, unless an employer frontloads sick leave at the beginning of a leave year and pays the employee for the sick leave that is not carried over.

Notice and Medical Verifications

  • Employers may request medical verification of the need for leave for absences of more than three consecutive days or if the employer suspects an employee is abusing sick leave.
  • Employers may not request medical verifications if leave is being taken for a reason under Oregon’s Domestic Violence leave statute.
  • For foreseeable leave, an employee must request leave as soon as practicable, but an employer may not require more than 10 days of notice.
  • An employer may generally require an employee to return the medical verification prior to going on foreseeable leave, unless that is not practicable.
  • For unforeseeable leave, an employee must request leave as soon as practicable, and an employee has 15 days to return a medical verification after it has been requested by an employer.

In addition to these basic requirements, BOLI has been given rulemaking authority, and we will know many more details about this law once those rules are published.

For assistance with getting your sick leave or PTO policies in compliance with the law, contact Cascade today.


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