Oregon paid leave is about a year away from providing benefits to employees, but state officials have released guidance about the program.
Paid leave in Oregon covers:
- Medical leave – for an employee’s own serious health condition
- Family leave – for an employee to care for a family member with a serious illness or injury, or to bond with a new child after birth, adoption or foster care placement
- Safe leave – for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment or stalking
Employers begin payroll contributions Jan. 1, 2023, with employees able to apply for benefits Sept. 3, 2023. (The state did change the implementation dates after Oregon initially passed the law.)
It’s also worth noting that Oregon has a separate paid sick leave program, which was recently expanded to include emergency evacuation orders and air quality and heat index issues.
Paid Leave Management. Simplified.
Oregon Paid Leave
Covering nearly every employer in the state, Oregon paid leave allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave in a year. However, some pregnancy-related situations could allow for a total of 14 weeks.
Only employers with 25 or more workers contribute to the program, but employees still pay their portion and companies must collect and submit their payments.
Meanwhile, employers with more than 25 employees must pay into the trust unless they offer a paid leave program that’s equivalent or more generous than the state’s. However, the program’s director, Karen Humelbaugh, cautioned that employers should check their existing plans to ensure compliance.
“They’ll have to show the state through an application process that it is truly equal to or better than the state plan. It would have to cover all three leave types, it would have to cover the same amount of time, you as an individual couldn’t pay more into it than you would pay into the trust,” she told reporters. “A lot of companies think that they’ve got a really great plan, but maybe it doesn’t cover safe leave, or maybe it’s only for 10 weeks and not 12.”
Eligible Reasons for Use
Under Oregon’s paid leave law, eligible reasons for use include those typically found in paid family and medical leave regulations:
- To care for and bond with child during the first year after the child’s birth or during first year after placement of child through foster care or adoption
- Absence due to employee’s serious health condition
- To care for an eligible family member due to their serious health condition
Also, safe time is broadly defined:
- To seek legal or law enforcement assistance to ensure the health and safety of the employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent, including preparing for and participating in protective order proceedings or other civil or criminal legal proceedings related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking
- To seek medical treatment for or to recover from injuries caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment or stalking of the eligible employee or employee’s minor child or dependent
- To obtain, or to assist a minor child or dependent in obtaining counseling from a licensed mental health professional related to an experience of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking
- To obtain services from a victim services provider for the eligible employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent
- To relocate or take steps to secure an existing home to ensure the health and safety of the eligible employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent
Covered Family Member
Covered family member includes a child — including the child of a domestic partner and person standing in loco parentis — parent, legal guardian or ward, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, spouse or registered domestic partner.
Relationships include, biological, adoptive, step-relationships, in-law and foster care relationships.
As is generally the case with paid family and medical leave laws, the benefits follow a complex formula.
If an employee’s average weekly wage is less than or equal to 65 percent of the average weekly wage determined by Oregon officials, the benefit amount will be 100 percent of employee’s average weekly wage.
If an employee’s average weekly wage is greater than 65 percent, the benefit will be 65 percent of the average weekly wage determined by the state, plus 50 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage that is greater than 65 percent
Payment for leave taken in increments shall be pro-rated to the equivalent of one workday and paid to the equivalent of one week.
Lastly, the law also includes anti-retaliation provisions, job protection and notices for employees.
Free Paid Leave Whitepaper
Paid Leave Laws Across the U.S.
Paid leave continues to be a major challenge for large employers.
Already in 2022, several jurisdictions have passed new paid leave laws, including:
- Bloomington, Minn. – paid sick leave ordinance
- San Francisco – public health emergency leave ordinance
- Delaware – paid family and medical leave
- Maryland – paid family and medical leave
- California – COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave
- Washington, D.C. – COVID-19 vaccination leave law
Keeping track of these laws, and how they interact, is another hurdle. Check out our recent webinar, When Paid Leave Laws Collide: Locations With Multiple Laws, for an examination of how to manage these situations.
While employees won’t be eligible for benefits under Oregon paid leave until September 2023, employers should prepare now for the coming implementation, as well as the Jan. 1, 2023, date for payroll contributions.