City law on sick leave for part-time workers a hot topic

City law on sick leave for part-time workers a hot topic

EUGENE, Ore. - A proposal to enact a city law requiring employers to grant paid sick leave to part-time employees has become a hot topic in Eugene.

Walt Hunt at New Odyssey Juice & Java in downtown Eugene said he's not dead set against it but would prefer to see a statewide solution instead of a city by city law.

The Eugene proposal comes on the heels of a similar local law in Portland.

Catherine Reinhart at Sweet Life Bakery said they already offer a modified sick leave benefit to employees now, which employees can accrue through the year. That benefit can be used for paid sick leave or extra vacation time.

She calls it the right thing to do.

But Dave Hauser at the Chamber of Commerce said, right or wrong, the propsal is moving too fast. The Eugene City Council could vote as early as late May.

He called the timing bad, with local businesses still in modest recovery mode after the recession.

The timing doesn't work for Hunt at the juice bar, either: for the first time in 4 or 5 years, he feels his business is set to turn a profit.

Laurie Trieger with Family Forward Oregon, the group promoting the local measure, said Portland just enacted its ordinance on Jan. 1. 

She said an estimated 51 percent of private sector workers in Eugene don’t get paid sick leave - and that more than 3/4 of low-wage workers in Eugene don't receive paid sick leave.
 
The ordinance would primarily affect food service, food prep, retail and caregiver jobs locally.