Portland proposal would require sick time

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by Tim Gordon, KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 8:25 PM

PORTLAND – If you work in the City of Portland and don’t earn sick time off, that may soon change.

And whether they like it or not, your employer will most likely have to pay you for the time off.

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz says she’s been studying the issue; she just released her proposal that would allow all workers within city limits to earn up to 40 hours a year sick time.

The sick time would accrue at one hour for every 30 hours worked. Businesses with fewer than six employees would not have to pay the time off, but businesses with six or more employees would have to pay the days earned.

Fritz said it’s the right thing to do for workers, many who provide services to the rest of us.

“It’s the kind of society we are in Portland and actually we should be in the entire country, we are one of the few countries in the entire civilized world that doesn’t have a national right to earned paid sick leave,” said Fritz, who added it also helps all of us stay healthy, by allowing workers to afford to stay home if they are ill.

But some businesses that would have to pay the sick time benefit are concerned about their bottom line.

That includes the co-owner of Higgins Restaurant and Bar, who says his profit margins are already pretty slim.

“There’s not a lot of room for paying all your staff of 65-plus employees an extra 40 hours of income a year, so the law's the law -- if that what we have to do that’s what we’ll do it. We’ll just have to figure out a way to change our pricing structure to afford it,” said Paul Mallory.

Commissioners will give the proposal a first reading Thursday January 31st at 2 pm. No vote is expected until at least the end of February.

There will be an informational forum held by Commissioner Fritz on Wednesday, January 23rd from 6 to 8pm at the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Avenue.

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