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Portland Protected Sick Time Ordinance

Phone: 503-823-3008


Use of Sick Time FAQs



Q:  What can employees use sick time for?

A: Employees can use their accrued sick time to care for their own health or the health of a family member, or to address issues caused by domestic violence, sexual harassment, and assault or stalking.

Family member has the same meaning as in ORS 659A.150 and includes the spouse of an employee (including same sex domestic partners), the biological, adoptive or foster parent or child of the employee, the grandparent or grandchild of the employee, a parent-in-law of the employee or a person with whom the employee was or is in a relationship of in loco parentis.

Sick time may be used in increments of one hour, unless the employer opts to allow employees to use smaller segments of leave. . Employees may also use protected sick time to cover all or just part of a shift.  Where it is physically impossible for an employee to start or end work part way through a shift, the entire time the employee is forced to be absent may be counted against an employee’s sick time. (Revised 12/24/13)


Q: Is Sick Leave paid based on the number of employees when the time is taken rather than when it was earned?  (New on 12/24/13)

A: When the time is taken.


Q: Is an employer at risk for even mentioning that an employee is sick every Friday?  (New on 12/24/13)

A: If the employee exhibits a pattern that suggests abuse, the employer may raise that with the employee and require documentation to account for the pattern of absences.


Q: Can an employer require medical verification for the use of sick leave?  (New on 12/12/13)

A: In cases where an employee is absent for more than three consecutive days, or in cases where the employer has established a pattern of abuse of sick time by the employee, the employer may require verification of the need for leave before any paid or unpaid sick leave is approved.  Examples of verification include:

  • A note from a licensed health care provider; or
  • Other documentation for survivors of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking include: a policy report, a copy of a protective order, documentation from an attorney, law enforcement officer, health care professional, clergy member, or victim services provider
  • A signed personal statement from the employee that the sick time was needed for a purpose covered by this law

Under existing Oregon law the employer is required to pay the costs associated with procuring verification. As an alternative, an employer may instead require the employee to submit a signed personal statement that the leave was for a purpose covered by the law.


Q:  Is it reasonable for an employer to determine that an employee’s pattern of taking protected sick time only when they are scheduled to work in the City, indicates a pattern of abuse?

A:  All situations are different and depend upon the actual circumstance, which requires discretion on the part of the employer.   It could be that such a situation is a pattern, it may also be circumstantial and it is incumbent upon the employer to prove.


Q: What about existing absence control policies?  (New on 12/12/13)

A: Authorized use of sick time under the ordinance cannot be used as a reason for taking an adverse employment action against an employee under an employer’s absence control policy.  An employer cannot take an employee’s authorized sick leave into account when rating that employee’s attendance record for the purposes of awarding a benefit, such as a raise, premium or bonus.


Q: Are employees allowed to trade shifts with other employees instead of taking protected sick time?  (New on 12/12/13)

A: Shift trading is allowed if mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee and if the trade takes place in the same or next pay period. However, the employer may not require employees to find a replacement to “cover a shift” as a condition for taking the sick time. An employer also cannot require employees to work an alternate shift to make up for using their accrued sick time.


Q: Are employees required to find their own replacement when they take protected sick time? (Revised 12/24/13)

A: No – under this Ordinance the employee is not responsible for finding a replacement worker when they miss a shift to take protected sick time.