Understanding Changes to Minimum Wage and Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

Posted by Christy Putnam on June 13, 2017 at 10:03 AM
Oregon’s current “Standard” minimum wage is $9.75 per hour. It is set to increase to $10.25 in July of this year and will increase every July following through 2022 (different rates apply to Portland Metro and non-urban counties). Washington state’s minimum wage is currently $11.00 (higher for Seattle, Tacoma, and City of SeaTac) and is scheduled to increase each year until 2020. Both Oregon and Washington are significantly higher than the current $7.25 federal minimum wage.

Oregon’s mandatory paid sick leave went into effect beginning January 1, 2016 for employers with more than 10 employees (for employers located within Portland, it's at least six employees). Mandatory paid sick leave will go into effect January 1, 2018 for Washington employers due to the passage of Initiative 1443, which was on the November 8, 2016 ballot.

What is next? Possibly Paid Parental Leave

With all of these changes, it leaves employers and employees asking what might be next. On the horizon is the possibility of paid parental leave. The federal proposed budget calls for up to six weeks of paid leave, for mothers and fathers, after the birth or adoption of a child. States would be responsible for funding and administering the program. States not currently offering a minimum of six weeks paid leave would be required to do so through the state Unemployment Insurance (UI) system, but they would be given the flexibility to design and finance their own program in lieu of the UI system if they choose. How much families would receive through the program has not been determined. Democrats have proposed a bill that would fund up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year.

Back on the State level, Oregon Democrats have introduced House Bill 3087, which would give employees up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave to care for themselves or a family member, plus an additional six weeks for the birth or adoption of a child. This would be funded through a payroll tax (one half of one percent) paid by workers and matched by employers.

Washington has introduced Senate Bill 5032 with House Bill 1116 which would provide six months paid time off for a birth of a child, adoption, or to care for a sick family member. This program would require an employee contribution with an employer match. The cost per employee will vary based on the amount of income as well as part-time versus full-time status.

Only three states – California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island – currently require paid family and medical leave. New York will also require this next year. We will continue to keep you updated as both state and federal developments are released.

Topics: News Alert, Human Resources

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