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SB 454 will ensure all working Oregonians have access to a reasonable amount of paid sick time every year
(Salem, Ore.)—The Senate Committee on Workforce today passed Senate Bill 454 The proposed legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Steiner Hayward of Beaverton and Representative Vega Pederson of Portland, will promote public health and the economic security of Oregon families by ensuring all working Oregonians have access to a reasonable amount of paid sick time where they work. It will also contribute to the health and productivity of our economy. The bill now moves to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
“This important policy gives every worker in Oregon the opportunity to earn paid sick time. It’s the right thing to do,” said Senator Michael Dembrow, Chair of the Senate Committee on Workforce. “I’m proud of this legislation and grateful to my colleagues for their support.”
Last month, more than 300 people attended the public hearing on SB 454, with a strong showing among supporters —including workers, business owners, public health experts, community members, social justice organizations, schoolteachers, nurses, and more.
“Today, we are one step closer to strengthening the economic security of Oregon families. We must ensure that workers across the state have the basic human dignity at work that goes with being able to take a paid sick day to recover from illness or care for a sick child." said Andrea Paluso, Everybody Benefits Coalition Chair and Family Forward Oregon Executive Director.
“I work hard but still can’t get ahead,” said Kim Eggleston, a single-mom from Aloha who lacks paid sick time. “When my son or I get sick and I have to stay home, I do not get paid. Just eight hours of lost pay leaves me struggling to cover my bills.”
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), 47 percent of private sector workers in Oregon have no access to paid sick time where they work. There’s an even larger gap in access among Hispanic workers in Oregon, with 62 percent having no paid sick time. Low-wage workers are also less likely to have access to paid sick time than higher-paid workers. In Oregon, 82 percent of those earning more than $65,000 annually have access to paid sick time compared to 29 percent of Oregonians earning less than $20,000 annually.
“Ensuring everyone can earn paid sick time is a common sense solution for families still struggling from the lingering recession, including low-wage workers and families of color who are hurting the most,” said Representative Paul Holvey, Chair of the House Committee on Business and Labor, which also heard HB 2005 last month— the House’s counterpart to the paid sick time bill.
SB 454 and HB 2005 will create a statewide standard so workers across Oregon can both provide for and responsibly care for their own and their families’ health. Both bills will allow workers to accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours (about five days) in a year. Sick time can be used for the diagnosis, care or treatment of the worker or a member of their family or in instances of domestic violence. Both bills also protect employees from retaliation or discrimination for the use of sick time.
Paid sick time has gained support all over the country in the last few years as three states and 18 cities have now passed laws and approved measures granting workers access to paid sick days. The City of Portland and the City of Eugene are among those that have passed their own city ordinances. For more than four years, the Everybody Benefits Coalition has been organizing in communities across Oregon to build momentum for the issue.
The bill now awaits its next hearing in the Ways and Means Committee.