Council to Vote on Sick Leave Ordinance

Sick SneezeEUGENE, Ore. — The city of Eugene could join a number of other cities, including San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Portland, requiring all employers to provide sick leave for their employees.

Over the last several months the community has debated the ordinance, and now the city council is scheduled to make a decision Monday night.

The decision hinges on weeks of input from the community. Last week we heard from a packed house. Harris Hall was at full capacity. Nearly 70 people signed up for public comment on the issue.

The ordinance would require all employers to provide workers with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Testimony last week was divided. Some employees who spoke said many workers have to choose between paying their bills and going to work sick. But business leaders said they object to an ordinance that reaches into cities and companies who have neither a voice nor a vote in the matter.

“I’m sure if the shoe were on the other foot, if Springfield passed an ordinance mandating how you do business in Eugene, you’d have a strong and immediate negative response. And you should,” said Dan Egan, Springfield Chamber of Commerce President.

“Many workers without paid sick leave are low-wage workers, women, immigrants and people of color. Providing these workers with paid sick leave would be a powerful declaration of our community’s commitment to the well-being of all workers, not just the favored few,” said a resident at a public hearing.

Councilors have gone back and forth on this issue talking about the importance of protecting the health of the community and what kind of impact it could have on small businesses.

If the council passes the ordinance, it would go into effect July 2015 with a grace period of about six months.

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