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Oregon law requires employers to give you sick time.
You get at least 1 hour of protected sick time for every 30 hours you work.

You can use sick time for many reasons, including if you or a family member is sick, injured, experiencing mental illness, or need to visit the doctor.

You can also use sick time if your child's school is closed by order of a public official for a public health emergency.

Sick time is paid if your employer has 10 or​ more employees (6 or more if you have operations in Portland).

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COVID-10/Coronavirus in Oregon: Facts about Sick Time

As news of COVID-19/coronavirus continues to grow, you should know that all Oregonians can access protected time off from work. The law requires it. Employers should consider steps to address employee fears, prevent onsite outbreaks, or respond if one occurs.

Facts first

While much is unknown about this new virus, clear proactive and preventative measures represent some of the most effective weapons for staying healthy at work.

As the status of the outbreak evolves, employers should stay abreast of developments from reliable sources. Use the best available information in formulating safety, attendance or travel concerns. Consider sharing links or information with employees from the CDC, the World Health Organization and OSHA.

Preventative measures

Wash your hands! In the absence of a vaccine, the CDC recommends the standard precautions for flu prevention: make sure soap, hand sanitizer and tissues are available for hand washing and disinfecting often-touched surfaces.

Employers can also limit potential exposure by cutting back on business travel to affected areas, encouraging staff who are ill to stay home, or providing telework options where appropriate.

INFORMATION FOR EMPLOYERS

Q: Can I require an employee traveling back from an affected area to stay home?

A: Yes, employers have the ability to ask an employee returning from an affected area (or exposure to a person with the disease) to stay home – but step softly here. The incubation period for a coronavirus is typically 14 days. If someone develops the disease, they may be contagious for longer. Potentially, this much time off could be a real hardship for employees. In addition, be sure a factual basis exists for a decision to exclude someone from the workplace – do not single out people of a specific national origin or race.

Employers may also send an employee home who appears to have symptoms of a contagious illness. Requiring medical certification would also be an option after a third consecutive absence. Keep in mind that an employer would need to cover any out-of-pocket expenses for obtaining the certification.

Of course, any absence due to actual illness or an order by a public official declaring a public health emergency would trigger protected sick time. For employers covered by OFLA or FMLA, a progression of the disease could result in a serious health condition that qualifies for protected leave (and a right to access to any other paid leave bank).

With that in view, consider allowing telework options where appropriate and access to other paid leave banks.

Q: My employee refuses to handle merchandise that came in from China and even sealed the shipment with biohazard tape. What now?

A: First, take a deep breath. Employers do have a general duty to provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause the death or serious physical harm to employees. Employees also have the protected right to raise good faith concerns about the health and safety of the workplace (even if the employee is wrong on the merits). A calm conversation about actual risks, supplemented with trusted material from sources like the CDC on how viruses are transmitted may go a long way to alleviating concerns.

​Q:  Can I require employees to provide a doctor's note to take sick time?

Employers are not required to ask for doctor’s notes to take sick time, but they are allowed to require them from employees who are taking sick leave of more than three consecutive days or who do not follow internal policies for taking sick time. However, in the midst of this pandemic, our healthcare professionals need to focus on genuine medical emergencies. Current CDC guidance for businesses is to actively encourage employees to stay home – and not to require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick.

INFORMATION FOR WORKERS

Q: Am I allowed to take time off if I am sick or someone in my family is sick?

A: Yes. Oregon law protects sick time. You get at least 1 hour of protected sick time for every 30 hours you work. Your employer can also front-load your sick time by giving you 40 hours in one chunk at the beginning of your benefit year. You can start taking sick time after you’ve worked for your employer for at least 90 days. You can use sick time for many reasons, including if you or a family member is sick, injured, experiencing mental illness, or need to visit the doctor.

If your employer has 10 or more employees (or six or more if they have a location in Portland), they must give you paid sick time at your regular wage (up to 40 hours per year). Otherwise, sick time is unpaid but still protected.

If you work for an employer with at least 25 employees, chances are you are also eligible to take up to 12 weeks of protected time for any “serious health condition” you or a family member develops. Under the Oregon Family Leave Act, you have a right to access any available paid leave while on protected time.

Q: If my daughter’s elementary school is closed because of COVID-19, can I use sick time? I don’t have that much sick time saved. What then?

A: Yes - employees have a right to use sick time for a closure of their child’s school (or place of care) by order of a public official due to a public health emergency. While sick time is not without limit, it may be that you and your employer can work out for a more flexible arrangement to allow for teleworking or working alternate hours.

Additionally, if you work for an employer with at least 25 employees, chances are you are also eligible to take up to 12 weeks of protected time for any “serious health condition” you or a family member develops. Under the Oregon Family Leave Act, you have a right to access any available paid leave while on protected time.

Q. Are parents in Oregon eligible to use Oregon Family Leave if their kids’ school is closed by order of Governor Kate Brown to limit the spread of coronavirus?

Oregonians can use Oregon Family Leave to take protected time off to care for their children during official school closures to limit the spread of coronavirus. This leave is not paid unless employees use available paid time off they have, but it is protected. (Paid family leave is coming to Oregon in 2023.)

The Oregon Family Leave Act provides for time off to care for a sick child for an illness, injury, or condition that is not serious, or school closures by order of a public official during a public health emergency even if the individual child is not sick. A school closure by Governor Brown based on CDC and World Health Organization guidance constitutes action to prevent a serious health crisis/pandemic. Children may or may not be at risk or create a risk by being together and thus require home care by parents and other caregivers.

Workers who work for an employer that has at least 25 employees are eligible for OFLA (and meet other criteria).

See the temporary rule affecting the Oregon Family Leave Law: OARD Temporary Rule Filing - OAR 839-009-0230

​Q:  Am I required to get a doctor's note to use sick time?

Employers are not required to ask for doctor’s notes to take sick time. It is an option for employers after three consecutive days of sick leave, but in the midst of this pandemic, our healthcare professionals need to focus on genuine medical emergencies. Current CDC guidance for businesses is to actively encourage employees to stay home – and not to require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick.

Q: Will I get paid if my employer temporarily closes the shop?

That depends. You would be entitled to use accrued sick time for temporary shutdowns in the event of a public health emergency. Employers with 10 or more employees (six if they have a location in Portland) have to provide sick time with pay. 

Employers would not have to pay sick time if they are forced to terminate employees altogether, though an employer may certainly choose to pay out unused paid sick time. If an employee is re-hired within 180 days, the employer must reinstate any balance of accrued but unused paid sick time and restore the employee's eligibility earned before the layoff.

Employers can’t dock the pay of salaried exempt employees for business closure absences beyond the employee’s control unless the employee performs no work at all in a workweek. Employers must pay hourly employees for the hours they work.

Q: Does my employer have to pay out sick time if I'm being laid off?

Employers are not required to pay out sick time, but they can always do so if they would like to.

Q: Can I take sick time if I am being laid off?

In general, no. If you are re-hired within 180 days, the employer must reinstate any balance of accrued but unused paid sick time and restore whatever eligibility to use sick time you had when you left.

Q: If I don’t feel comfortable going to work because others at work are sick or I want to quarantine myself, can I use sick time?

Yes.


Q: Will my employer tell me if someone comes down with coronavirus?

Employers do have a duty to provide a place of employment, free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause the death or serious physical harm to employees. That said, privacy laws will prevent your employer from sharing any specific medical information of another employee.

 

Employers...

 

Learn more about ​sick leave laws here.

 
Call our Technical Assistance for Employers hotline to troubleshoot and ask any questions you have about sick time.

Call 971-673-0824 or email bolita@boli.state.or.us.​​​
 ​​​​​​​​
Employees...
 
Employees accrue 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked or 1-1/3 hours for every 40 hours worked.
 
It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against you for exercising your rights or attempting to exercise your rights under Oregon's sick time law.
 
If your employer isn’t following the law or something feels wrong, give us a call. We are here to enforce these laws and protect you. Call 971-673-0761.