Paid Sick Leave in Oregon: No Rest for the Weary – Yet

Update: Paid sick days passed the Oregon House on June 12 and is headed to the Governor’s desk for final approval!

You glance at the thermometer and it confirms your suspicion: your child has a fever.

If you’re a worker in Oregon who lacks paid sick time, your choice boils down to a rock and a hard place: Do you send your sick child to school or daycare, or miss a day of work and lose out on a much-needed paycheck – or worse – risk being fired.

Today in Oregon, nearly half of all workers in the private sector don’t have access to paid sick time. It’s even worse for low-wage workers, where 71% lack access to sick time. This is an especially large issue in Oregon, where 26% of mothers with young children work in low-wage jobs — the second-highest rate in the nation.

Luckily, on Wednesday, June 10, the Oregon Senate approved a bill that would allow employees working at companies with 10 or more workers to earn up to 5 paid sick days per year. The leave can be used for themselves or to care for a family member – like a child – who needs medical care. Senate Bill 454 would make Oregon the fourth state to allow nearly all employees to earn paid sick time, but only if the Oregon House approves the measure – and time is running out.

If the Oregon House follows the Senate’s lead and passes the bill, the decision to stay home with your sick child should soon be a little easier. And that should give parents more time to focus on other important issues like: Does your child really have a fever? Or did they just hold the thermometer over a light bulb?