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SB 454 and HB 2005 are good for business, good for families and good for public health
(Salem, Ore.)—The Senate Committee on Workforce and the House Committee on Business and Labor tonight held a joint public hearing on proposed legislation that would ensure all working Oregonians have access to a reasonable amount of paid sick time where they work. Senate Bill 454 and House Bill 2005, 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.
More than 300 people turned out to the hearing with a strong showing among supporters of the bills—including workers, business owners, public health experts, community members, organizations, schoolteachers and more.
“By ensuring every working Oregonian can afford to stay home when sick, we can strengthen the economic security of families, keep workplaces healthy and productive, and businesses strong,” said Representative Vega Pederson.
A broad coalition submitted testimony in support of the bill, including: Andrea Paluso, Executive Director of Family Forward Oregon and Chair of the Everybody Benefits Coalition; Stephen Michael, State Director for the Main Street Alliance of Oregon; Anna Stiefvater, public health nurse and Oregon Public Health Association representative; and Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic, whose business has provided paid sick time to staff with minimal cost and positive effects on employee productivity and morale.
“I’m proud to say we’ve provided paid sick days since we first opened our doors more than thirty years ago,” said Houser. “The cost is low, less than one percent of payroll, and the return is high. The average tenure of our 10 full-time employees is over 16 years. That kind of employee loyalty is critical to the success of any small business.”
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 56 hours (about seven 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.
“Getting sick shouldn’t mean getting fired. And it shouldn’t mean having to choose to work sick or lose income your family relies on.” said Andrea Paluso of Family Forward Oregon. "This policy goes along with the same kind of workplace standards that ensure everyone, no matter where they work, has the same basic human dignities that go with earning a minimum wage, remaining safe at work, or preventing discrimination."
New data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) shows that today, 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. IWPR also details how low-wage workers are 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. Those least able to afford a day with out pay are also least likely to have access to paid sick time. It’s another inequality in our economy that’s hurting us all.
“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.”
Both bills now await work sessions in their respective committees.
About the Everybody Benefits Coalition:
Everybody Benefits is Oregon’s campaign for paid sick time. Formed by a broad coalition of members who believe that Oregonians needs a basic workplace standard for paid sick time to protect public health and the health of our workers, our families, our healthcare system and our economy. Members include: American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Causa Oregon, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Family Forward Oregon, Main Street Alliance of Oregon, MomsRising.org, The Mother PAC, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon Working Families, Service Employees International Union Local 503, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, Urban League of Portland and Working America.