Sick leave

Portland became the fourth city to mandate employers provide sick leave to workers. Worker rights advocates have pushed for such measures in several U.S. cities. Above, activists rally in January at New York's City Hall for paid sick leave. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press / January 18, 2013)

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Portland, with a unanimous City Council vote, became the fourth city Wednesday to require private employers offer workers sick leave.

Hailed by supporters as a move to provide workers with protection from being fired if they call in sick, the policy affects businesses who employ six or more workers.

The municipal vote comes a day before a similar measure is set to go before City Council members in Philadelphia.

"Policies like paid sick days are about more than keeping people healthy -- they're about keeping money in the pockets of working families so they can cover the basics," said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values (at) Work, a national advocacy group, which lobbied in favor of the ordinance.

The city's new policy will allow employees to earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. The law applies to businesses who employ six workers or more, while smaller firms can provide unpaid time off.

Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have put sick leave measures on their books, and worker rights advocates are pushing for similar policies to be adopted nationwide.

Portland's law had faced opposition from business groups, such as the Portland Business Alliance, which argued the measure would hurt small businesses.

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ricardo.lopez2@latimes.com