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Portland Protected Sick Time Ordinance

Phone: 503-823-3008


General FAQs


Q: What is the Portland Protected Sick Time Ordinance?

A: On March 13, 2013, the Portland City Council unanimously passed a law that allows everyone working within Portland city limits to accrue paid and protected sick time at work.  The law ensures that everyone working in Portland can have time off work when they or a family member are sick, to recover from illness, seek preventive care, or deal with issues that arise in domestic violence situations.  The City Council concluded after extensive evidence and testimony that when people can stay home from work to care for self or family when sick, the community and the workplace benefit.   Employers in turn have healthier and more productive workforce due to reduced contagion and turnover, and public health improves. (Amended on 12/24/13)


Q: When will the Portland Sick Time Ordinance go into effect?

A: On January 1, 2014 eligible workers will begin accruing sick time. 


Q:  What businesses are affected by the Portland Sick Time law?

A:  All businesses operating within the City Limits must provide sick leave under this new law.  Under the new law, employers with 6 or more employees provide up to 40 hours of paid, protected sick time per year.  Employers with 5 or fewer employees must provide up to 40 hours of protected sick time per year, but have a choice about whether to provide paid or unpaid time.   Employers can always allow more than the law requires as many businesses already do.   This law simply sets a minimum baseline for providing the benefit.


Q:  How does a business know if it is conducting business within the City Limits?

A:  A downloadable map of the City of Portland is not possible at the scale necessary to see the boundaries, however based upon a specific address, a map accessible through the City website will confirm whether or not a location is within the city boundary.  Destinations and or permanent work locations can be confirmed through the website.   by entering the address for your place of business.  However, even if your business is located outside the city limits, but you have employees who work within city limits, they are still eligible for protected sick time.


Q:  How do I calculate the number of employees in my business if it fluctuates during the course of the year?  (New on 12/24/13)

A:  All Employees who work for the Employer shall be counted for the purpose of determining the number of Employees an Employer has.  This includes full-time Employees, temporary Employees, part-time Employees, and Employees who work outside the City or outside the State of Oregon.  For established Employers, the number of Employees is calculated based on the number of Employees who were employed each working day during each of twenty (20) or more calendar work weeks in the calendar year in which the leave is to be taken or in the calendar year immediately preceding the year in which the leave is to be taken.  For Employers that did not have any Employees for at least twenty (20) work weeks in the previous or current calendar year, the number of Employees shall be calculated based upon the average number of Employees per calendar work week during the first ninety (90) calendar days of the current calendar year. 


Q:  What is meant by a Year, how do we measure, is it a calendar year or a fiscal year?

A:  “Year” means any consecutive 12-month period of time that is normally used by an employer for calculating wages and benefits, including a calendar year, tax year, fiscal year, contract year, or the year running from an employee’s anniversary date of employment. Whichever way you choose to measure a year, consistency in calculating this from year to year and from employee to employee is important for proof of records.


Q:  What is a PTO?  (New on 12/24/13)

A:  PTO stands for Paid time off.  It is a form of providing sick leave in combination with other leaves including vacation leave.  All leaves become one and the same, that is, simply Paid Time Off, and it is the employee’s responsibility to monitor how and for what leave it is used for.   A PTO policy that allows for 40 hours of paid time off, can meet the requirements of this ordinance and can be for some business models the preferred method of providing sick time benefit. 


Q:  Which employers are affected by the Portland Protected Sick Time Ordinance? (New 12/24/13)

A: The law covers all employers who have employees that perform work inside the city limits ofPortland.  Even if the employer is not based within the city limits, if their employees spend time working in the city, the employer is covered by this law.


Q: Who counts as an employee? 

A: An employee is anyone the employer pays or agrees to pay for services in a home or place of business. Those people whom you do not need to count as employees include: a co-partner of the employer, independent contractors, those in work-study programs, or those in state or federal-run work training programs. For employers with a fluctuating number of employees, any person who has been employed each working day during each of 20 or more work weeks in the current or preceding calendar year should be counted as en employee.


Q:  How are temporary employees affected?

A:  The law applies to employees who work 240 hours or more in a year inPortland – regardless of their temporary or permanent status.  An employer can elect to cover employees who work fewer hours inPortland since this law is just a minimum floor.