Man sneezing into kleenex.


Effective July 1, 2015, all people working in Eugene will earn paid sick time while they work

On July 28, 2014  the Mayor and City Councilors of Eugene, Oregon voted 5 to 3[1] to implement a paid sick days policy that will enable people who work in the city to earn sick time while they work, making Eugene the second city in Oregon and the 9th U.S. city to adopt such a policy.  The state of Connecticut and approximately 145 countries also require that employers allow their workers to accrue a minimum number of paid sick days each year. This is a big forward step for Eugene’s economy that will help employees better manage their work and personal responsibilities simultaneously, without jeopardizing one or the other.

About the problem: This policy solves a communitywide problem that has been adversely affecting the city’s public health economic security of Eugeneans, student learning, employer productivity (especially in winter when contagious illnesses are most prevalent), and parent caregiving. Everybody gets sick, but without a citywide policy like the one passed today, people have to rely on the good graces of their employer in order to afford to stay home when sick or see a doctor when needed or care for a sick child or even keep their job through an illness.

And that’s an equity and public health problem that the Eugene City Council appropriately decided to solve. About 25,000 workers in Eugene don’t earn paid sick time[2], which is slightly more than half of private-sector workers.[3] Not an hour.  This policy will change that – for the better.  And everyone in the city will benefit.

About the policy: The policy will be effective July 1, 2015 and apply to all employers whose employees work 240 or more hours per year in the city. Part-time and full-time workers will accrue paid sick and safe time at a rate of one hour for every 30 worked and be able to access it after 90 days on the job. Workers will earn up to 40 hours of sick time in a year, and unused time will cannot be cashed out upon separation. Time can be used to care for oneself, a family member, or for safe time to address domestic violence issues.

Everybody Benefits Coalition Coordinator Laurie Trieger is pleased with the outcome:

The Eugene City Council’s vote to bring paid sick days to our community will help every single person who lives and works here to be healthier and more financially stable. The 25,000 people working in Eugene who currently lack a single paid sick day will soon be able to care for their own health and that of their family without sacrificing their economic stability. And that is a big step towards the kind of caring economy we know works better for employees and employers alike. This is an important step toward a healthier and more equitable future for everyone in our community.

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy:

Sometimes in public service you have the opportunity to do something big, something that really advances the people and the community you serve.  For me, the paid sick time ordinance we voted to bring to Eugene is one of those things. When 25,000 of your constituents can’t take a single paid day off when they have the flu or their child needs to see a doctor, it’s time to act. I’m proud that we took this step forward and, frankly, hope it’s contagious! More people around Oregon and across our nation need paid sick time, and if we have helped their plight in the slightest, I am honored to have been part of it. I truly believe what is good for workers is good for business and good for our community.

Eugene Councilor Claire Syrett, who championed the policy:

I am so pleased that 25,000 people working in Eugene will soon be able to take a paid sick day when they’re sick or need to care for a sick child, when right now they aren’t allowed to. The truth is our workplaces too often force people to choose between their livelihood and their health or their family, with low-wage workers suffering the most. Policies like earned paid sick time reduce that conflict, making it more possible for working people in all kinds of jobs to stay financially stable, which is what we want for everyone in our community!

Patricia Cortez, Youth Program Coordinator with Juventud FACETA, a local organization that works with Latino immigrant youth to become leaders for human rights, actively participated in the campaign with several students:

The Latino student leaders at Juventud FACETA have been proudly involved in the effort to bring paid sick days to Eugene because they and their families are directly affected by not having paid sick days. We applaud our City Council for standing up for all Eugene workers, because we’ll all be healthier and more financially stable going forward.

The Main Street Alliance of Oregon, which works with Eugene small businesses, many of which actively supported a citywide paid sick time policy reached out to hundreds of local businesses about the problem and the solution.  Stephen Michael is Executive Director of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon:

This is an important day of celebration for Eugene employers and employees alike, who are both taking a big step toward a more socially sustainable model of work that will leave our city and its economy healthier and more productive.  It feels great to be part of a solution that will directly benefit so many friends, colleagues and neighbors and that positions Eugene as a leader in our country when it comes to a triple-bottom line economy. It’s a good day for Eugene and for Eugene business owners!

[1] Councilors Clark, Polling and Pryor voted against; Councilors Brown, Evans Syrett, Taylor, and Zelenka voted in favor.

[2] Data from 2009-11.

[3] Institute for Women’s Policy Research, December, 2013,