- Associated Press - Friday, April 11, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - With a majority of its members on board, the Eugene City Council is moving ahead with legislation to require businesses to give their employees paid sick leave.

At least five of the eight City Council members view the idea favorably, according to a head count by the Register-Guard (http://bit.ly/1n10QJV ).

Workers who don’t have sick leave are forced to choose between maintaining their income and going to work when sick or sending their children to school sick.

“Families in financial stress cannot afford to lose a day’s pay,” said Council member Claire Syrett.


Opponents such as Council member Mike Clark say the measure means added expense for businesses, which will trim hiring in response, “costing our community hundreds and hundreds of jobs.”

A coalition of advocacy groups has organized a campaign behind paid sick leave called “Everybody Benefits Eugene.” They estimate that about 51 percent of the private-sector workers in Eugene don’t earn paid sick leave.

The Council has asked its staff to draft a measure that could be ready for public comment in May or June and be on the books in January.

Similar legislation from Portland is expected to be a model. Seattle and San Francisco also have similar laws.

The president of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, Dave Hauser, said the timing of the idea “could not be worse” because the local economy lags the rest of the state in recovering from the recession. But he said he hopes the Council will collaborate with business owners.

“If the Council decides to proceed, which it sounds like they are committed to doing, it’s important they do this with the business community, not to the business community,” Hauser said.

The Council is expected to resume discussion on the issue later this month.

Several questions would need to be answered, including what size businesses would be covered by the ordinance, how much paid sick leave employers would have to give, how many hours an employee would have to work to be eligible, and how the city would enforce it.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com