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House Bill 3028 would prohibit businesses from requiring employees to use vacation or sick time to cover absences devoted to service on commissions, boards or committees created by statute. Civic service is laudable, which is why many employers voluntarily provide the flexibility employees need to engage in it. However, the provisions of this bill are complex and, particularly for small businesses, unworkable.

Employers need to plan staffing levels. This is so not only to operate effectively, but also to meet Oregon’s predictive scheduling requirements. After all, employees need to know with reasonable advance notice when they’ll be working. But HB 3028 contains no notice provisions that would help employers accommodate absences.

Additionally, the bill would create an obligation for employers with no limitation in definition or scope. The bill would require employers to provide unpaid leave “for time spent by the employee in service as an appointed member of the board, commission, council or committee.” However, it does not define what “in service” means. How could a business plan to backfill absences without knowing how long leave taken under HB 3028 would last?

While HB 3028 aims to support laudable civic service, it would compromise the ability of employers to operate. By doing so, it would erode their ability to provide the employment, tax revenue and innovation ongoing prosperity in Oregon requires.

On Feb. 1, OBI’s Derek Sangston testified in opposition to HB 3028 before the House Committee on Business and Labor. Read his full testimony here.