A controversial bill requiring Oregon employers to provide paid sick days for workers to care for themselves or a family member cleared its first hurdle Wednesday.
The Senate Workforce Committee passed Senate Bill 454 by a 3-2 party line vote and sent it to the Joint Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
More than 300 people attended legislative hearings on the bill in mid-February. Since then, lawmakers have tasked a work group representing labor and business interests to find common ground.
During a work session Wednesday, March 25, the Senate panel, comprised of three Democrats and two Republicans, passed an amended version of the bill with key changes. The revised bill would:
- Require employers to provide their workers with up to 5 days of paid sick time each year - fewer than the 7 days initially proposed.
- Apply to employers with six or more employees - rather than to all employers.
- Apply statewide, preempting local ordinances already passed in Portland and Eugene. Business groups were especially interested in a statewide standard that would provide consistency.
Though both cities require up to 5 sick paid days, the Eugene law, due to take effect July 1, 2015, applies to all employers while Portland's applies to those with six or more employees. Those with five or fewer are required to offer unpaid sick time.
- Drop most record-keeping requirements for employers and give them a one-year grace period to comply, assuming an effective date of Jan. 1, 2016.
A House committee is considering similar legislation. Supporters hope that large Democratic majorities in both chambers will result in Oregon becoming the fourth state to pass a sick leave law.