BEND, OR -- The Bend Chamber of Commerce is speaking out in opposition to a pair of bills that would mandate paid sick time for Oregon workers. HB 2005 and SB 454 would allow full- and part-time workers to accrue an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year. The bills have been supported by Democrats and Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). Portland and Eugene have city sick leave laws already on the books.
Jamie Christman says the Bend Chamber is not opposed to the idea of paid sick time, but the problem is how these bills are written. "Primarily, this puts the cost of the burden to implement the program entirely on the employer regardless of the number of employees, with no required employee investment before eligibility. And, then in many cases, at the expense of having rearrange and compromise current benefits that are often already preferred by the employees" Christman tells KBND News. "Really what it really is, we’re just opposed in its current form." She says many Central Oregon businesses already provide Paid Time Off (PTO) in the form of vacation time. "A PTO plan rewards both healthy and sick employees with the same number of paid days off. So, an employee shouldn’t get less paid time off just because he/she is healthy and/or not willing to lie about being sick in order to use sick leave as a vacation day."
Christman says a number of local businesses have written letters to lawmakers expressing their concerns. "They need to be able to implement it in a way they can afford; that, of course, there aren’t unintended consequences where abuses are in place. They’re already seeing examples in Portland where Mondays and Fridays are just a challenge, particularly in industries with lower incomes and less employees. And that’s what we see in our tourism industry here, too." The Bureau of Labor and Industries, contracted to enforce Portland’s paid sick leave law, refutes that claim. A BOLI representative testified at a legislative hearing earlier this week that most Portland employees don't take all the time off they earn.