Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

The Snowball Effect: Portland taking steps toward city-wide paid sick days standard

psd infographicSeattle’s landmark paid sick days law ensures hundreds of thousands of people working in Seattle can earn paid sick days on the job – and now Portland is taking steps to do the same.

More than 60 percent of Portlanders support a labor standard to guarantee that every worker can earn paid sick leave (and only 15% oppose such a standard). So far, over seven thousand Portland residents have submitted letters to their City Councilmembers requesting an earned sick leave standard.

Beyond the simple standards of fairness and respect that should drive support for allowing workers to earn a reasonable amount of paid sick leave, there’s this simple reality: sickness simply doesn’t belong in the workplace. No one wants restaurant workers sneezing on their pancakes, no one wants contagious co-workers at the copy machine, and no one wants a checkout clerk coughing on their purchases – especially if they’re groceries.

But much like Seattle prior to its paid sick days ordinance, many people working in Portland get no paid sick time at all. In fact, 40% of all private-sector workers and 80% of low-income workers in Portland don’t earn paid sick time while working – not one – not a single day!  According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 74% of Portland’s food service workers have no paid sick leave, even though handling food is one of the fastest ways to spread illness.

Know anyone who lives in Portland? Send them to the Portland Campaign for Earned Sick Days website, and encourage them to send a note to their city councilmember!

Update! : Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz released a proposal Thursday that would require businesses that do not already give time off to employees to provide sick leave.

By EOI Intern Marcus Sweetser

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