Last Friday, June 12 , nearly half of all private sector workers in Oregon woke up hoping that a case of the flu, strep throat or some other common and contagious illness wouldn’t force them to choose between staying home to recover or care for a sick child and the jobs and wages they need to put food on the table. Today, they woke up knowing that, soon, they will no longer have to make such a difficult decision.
That’s because Oregon state legislators made history by approving a law that will guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick time. When Governor Brown signs the bill, Oregon will become the fourth state in the nation with a statewide paid sick days law — adding to the tremendous momentum we have seen already this year.
Oregon’s bill, which will take effect next year, will guarantee all workers access to job-protected sick days. Workers at businesses with 10 or more employees will be able to earn paid sick time, while those at smaller businesses will earn unpaid time. Portland’s existing paid sick days law will remain in effect. There, workers at businesses with six or more employees will get paid time, and those at smaller businesses will get unpaid time.
Job-protected sick time is an important safeguard because nearly a quarter of adult U.S. workers have lost a job or been threatened with job loss for needing sick time. Soon, Oregonians will no longer have to fear the same fate. This is especially significant for the 71 percent of low-wage workers in the state whose wages and job security are even more critical to their families’ ability to stay afloat.
This victory was made possible by the tireless, on-the-ground work of the Everybody Benefits Coalition, coordinated by Family Forward Oregon. Oregon now joins the list of 21 other jurisdictions that have or will soon have paid sick days laws in place, more than half of which were enacted in the last two years. These state and local wins pave the way for a much-needed national standard and for workplace cultures that respect and reflect the needs of working families.
To learn more about how to take action to support the Healthy Families Act, which would set a national paid sick days standard from coast to coast, contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the Family Forward Oregon statement about this historic win, click here.
National organizations in the paid sick days coalition praised the Oregon victory. To check out some of their statements, visit: the National Partnership for Women & Families, Family Values @ Work and MomsRising.