I can't believe June has already arrived and schools are getting ready for summer break. The last time I wrote about paid sick leave was March 26th. Much has happened since that newsletter and it's time for an update.
There were two key bills being considered, HB 2005 and SB 454. The majority chose to move forward with SB 454 which passed out of the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services and is now in the Full Committee on Ways and Means.
SB 454 has been debated, re-worked, and amended over and over again. In fact, 44 amendments have been crafted by Legislative Counsel! So what does the bill look like now? Paid sick leave will be mandated to all employers in Oregon, including county, city, district, and public corporations. The law will require all employers outside of Portland with 10 or more employees to provide paid sick leave, and those with nine or less to provide un-paid sick leave. Businesses in Portland will be required to provide paid sick leave for employees with six or more, and unpaid sick leave with five or less employees.
Employees will earn a minimum of one hour of sick leave for every thirty hours of paid work, with a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave per year.
I could go into further details about the bill, but this is the core summary. Although I can agree paid sick leave should be available for families, I have some serious concerns with SB 454.
The numbers are coming in:
- The bill is estimated to cost Oregon businesses an additional $914 million per biennium! Who pays for this? I believe the consumer will pick up the bulk of it.
- Legislative Fiscal Office has determined this bill will cost public colleges an additional $7.6 million, ANNUALLY!
- The Oregon School Boards Association has determined this bill will cost K-12 an additional $20 million per biennium! Considering the Oregon Supreme Court overturned the Public Employees Retirement System reform which passed in the 2013 Legislative Session, our state will now likely need an additional $1 billion in the 2017-19 biennium! School districts will receive the brunt of the Supreme Court decision because they have higher accrued retirement costs relative to the number of active employees. Bottom line, this is NOT the time to mandate paid sick leave.
- Linn Benton Community College expects to spend $146,000 per biennium for student workers and an extra $2 million per year for part time faculty!
I struggle in supporting this bill because I do not believe it keeps businesses in Oregon open and prosperous, nor does it create more jobs for Oregonians, or protect the collective bargaining rights for union members. I submitted HB 3519 which was supported by the business community in Oregon.
HB 3519 would do the following:
- Paid sick leave would only be required for employers with businesses of 25 employees or more
- Employees must work 25 hours per week to receive paid sick leave
- Keeping at the rate of one hour of paid sick leave earned per 40 hours, employees cannot exceed more than 40 hours of sick leave per year
- An employee must be employed for 180 days before sick leave is available
- Exempt agriculture and construction workers
- Exempt seasonal and temporary workers
HB 3519 would have a lower fiscal estimate compared to SB 454 while offering employees and employers flexibility. Earlier this week, I interviewed on OPB Think Out Loud with Rep. Paul Holvey, who has been working tirelessly to find a compromise regarding SB 454. Although I don't believe SB 454 is the best avenue to go, I appreciate his willingness to listen to other perspectives. The radio interview OPB put together is an excellent program which demonstrates the gravity in differing opinions. If you missed the interview and want to find out more, click here!