Bills would require up to 56 hours a year.
As Oregon lawmakers consider the idea of statewide paid sick leave, Steve Ferree’s experience could provide a cautionary tale.
Ferree, of Mr. Rooter Plumbing near Portland, has been offering paid sick leave for more than a year now, under Portland’s ordinance that requires businesses with more than six workers to provide 40 hours of paid sick time per year.
The legislation adds one more burden on already over-regulated small businesses, Ferree says. Just reprinting his employee handbook to reflect the new rules costs $6,000. “In the last couple of years, the biggest problem small businesses have isn’t each individual thing,” he says. “It’s that each individual thing by itself adds up to big expenses.”
Some employers simply won’t be able to afford a paid sick leave, Ferree says. “The businesses that want to provide that to their employees already are. The businesses that aren’t providing it, it’s because they can’t afford to. For small businesses that have a lot of minimum wage employees, by the time you add paid time off, there’s not enough markup for the goods they’re selling.”
State Sen. Ted Ferrioli said he’s heard from small business associations who oppose the paid sick leave idea, but he worries many small business owners themselves don’t yet know about the proposal. “It’s one of those things where many small businesses far removed from the debate in Salem potentially could wake up with regulations that could make their businesses unsustainable.”
Two bills have been introduced that call for statewide paid sick leave regardless of company size. Businesses would have to provide an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours a year. Eugene already passed a paid sick leave law that goes into effect July 1.
The paid leave proposal comes on top of Oregon’s minimum wage increase, from $9.10 to $9.25 an hour, that went into effect Jan. 1.