I wrote the following as a draft post on February 20th of this year.  Since writing it, the sick pay bill was passed and signed into law.  The minimum wage issue did not make it to a vote because of disagreement among the Democrats as to the actual amont of a minimum wage, $12/hour, $15/hour or more.  Here was what I wrote then (the last paragraph was just finished today when I decided to publish this):


I am a member of the Oregon Winegrowers Association.  It is a group that lobbies on behalf of the wine grape growers, winery owners and related business people in Oregon’s wine industry.  With the exception of a few government sponsored schools and research facilities, the members of the OWA are independent business people.  In fact, most own or operate (very) small businesses.

Yesterday, I received an email from the OWA with an included poll.  The subject of the email was to notify members of some key issues on the docket for consideration in the current session of the Oregon State Legislature.  The included poll was intended to collect member opinion on some of the proposed legislation.  Since 57 of the 90 legislators are Democrats, the agenda of the Democrats as a party becomes the de facto agenda of the state legislature.

Two of the Democrat’s key issues are Minimum Wage and Sick Pay.  These are key union issues and it is no surprise that they are key to the Democrats as well.  Oregon Unions (mostly teachers and government workers unions) give almost exclusively to Democrat causes and candidates.  The Democrats want to increase the minimum wage from the current $9.25 per hour to $15.00 per hour by 2018.  They would also like to require all employers of any size to have a sick pay policy that includes a minimum or 56 hours per year of paid sick leave.  Only if an employee has missed 3 consecutive days would the proposed policy require the employee to show the reason for the “sick time.”

In the late 70s, our company was unionized.  After almost five years of working for two bosses (us and the union) and paying dues to the Union for almost nothing in return, the Union was tossed by the employees (all but three voted to decertify the union).  One thing they did get that was forced by the Union contract was 5 days of paid sick leave each year.  When we studied the sick leave usage, it will not surprise you to learn that right at about 90% of all sick days were taken on Fridays and Mondays.  Almost all were taken one day at a time.  Our analysis showed that “sick leave” was nothing but an additional 5 days of paid vacation.  This was a big addition to our overhead and made us less competitive with similar non-union companies.

Our company, both before and after the Union period had a policy that had zero days of paid sick leave.  We did, however, make some policies to soften the blow when employees were sick or needed to see a doctor during the work day.  One policy was that an employee could make up lost hours by arrangement with his or her supervisor to replace the lost income when attending a doctor’s appointment, etc.  Another policy was that employees could take vacation pay to make up for lost work time due to illness.  These policies were not perfect, but they provided some relieve without punishing everyone by increasing company overhead.

I’d be curious to hear how your company deals with sick time missed by employees.