Amendments Aiming to Simplify Oregon’s Paid Leave Laws to Take Effect July 1, 2024

By Jana Bjorklund, GovDocs Senior Counsel and
Director, Employment Law and Compliance
Published April 18, 2024

Oregon Paid Leave Laws 2024 GovDocs

Employers should notify employees about these changes and review the situation of all employees on leave during the transition on July 1 to better understand their impact.

Navigating employee leave laws in Oregon has been a grim task since Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) became effective in September of 2023. Oregon has two laws providing extended leave to employees:  the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), which provides protected, unpaid leave to employees, and PLO, which provides paid leave to employees. The two laws currently contain overlapping benefits that allow employees to stack protected leave, creating compliance challenges for employers.  

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. The Current Challenge of Managing Leave in Oregon 
  2. Help is On the Way  
  3. Concurrent Benefits and Benefit Year Under OFLA and PLO Beginning July 1, 2024 
  4. Changes to the Oregon Family Leave Act 
  5. Changes to Paid Leave Oregon 
  6. Next Steps for Employers 

The Current Challenge of Managing Leave in Oregon

Employers in Oregon must grapple with the interaction of OFLA, PLO, and the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This becomes particularly complicated because employers have to determine whether the leave qualifies under more than one of these laws, whether it runs concurrently, how that works if an employee decides not to apply for PLO (employees are not required to do so), and how to apply leave if the employer and the state administrator of PLO disagree about eligibility for the leave. To top it all off, these three laws have differing eligibility requirements. 

Help is On the Way

All that will change on July 1, 2024, when the amendments to the leave laws go into effect. On March 22, 2024, Governor Tina Kotek signed SB 1515 into law, which amends PLO and OFLA to effectively align the two leave laws, eliminate most of the duplicative coverage for the same qualifying event, and clarify the issue of concurrent benefits. 

Concurrent Benefits and Benefit Year Under OFLA and PLO Beginning July 1, 2024

Leave taken under OFLA will be in addition to leave taken under PLO for the same reason. They will no longer run concurrently. Leave under PLO will still run concurrently with eligible leave taken under FMLA for the same reason. 

Also starting July 1, 2024, the OFLA definition of a “one-year period” for benefits will align with the definition under PLO. Previously, the OFLA definition of a benefit year aligned with FMLA. PLO defines the one-year period as 52 consecutive weeks beginning on the Sunday immediately preceding the date on which the family leave commences. Under SB 1515, the OFLA one-year period will be measured the same as it is under PLO.  

Changes to the Oregon Family Leave Act

Starting July 1, 2024, OFLA will only cover leave for the following reasons, which will eliminate duplicate coverage for the same conditions and the possibility of leave stacking. 

  • To care for a sick child (under 18 or disabled), including for a serious health condition, or to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed due to a public health emergency.  
  • Bereavement leave – which will be capped at 4 weeks per year and two weeks per family member 
  • Pregnancy disability leave – which will be in addition to other leave under OFLA and PLO 
  • Leave to manage the legal process of placing a foster child or adoption – this is a temporary, 2-week benefit per year which will be available under the OFLA from July 1, 2024 through December 31, 2024. Starting Jan. 1, 2025, leave for this reason will be covered under PLO. 

The current OFLA benefits that will be removed from OFLA starting July 1, 2024 are: 

  • Family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition or parental bonding leave 
  • Medical leave for an employee’s own serious health condition 

These benefits will be available only under PLO starting July 1, 2024. 

Changes to Paid Leave Oregon

The changes to PLO under SB 1515 were minor compared to the changes under OFLA. Starting July 1, 2024, PLO leave is no longer capped, and employees may take the full amount of OFLA and PLO benefits in a year.  

In addition, employees will still retain the option to use available paid time off available through their employer, such as PTO or vacation to cover their OFLA or PLO leaves. However, employers will be able to cap the use of these benefits when an employee is on a PLO leave so the combined payment to the employee while on leave equals 100% wage replacement. At present, employees who are on PLO for an eligible reason under OFLA, and who qualify for both, are able to exceed 100% wage replacement. 

PLO will continue to cover family leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, parental bonding leave, and medical leave for an employee’s own serious health condition. 

Next Steps for Employers

Employers should review their policies and procedures related to administering employee leave in Oregon. While the changes under SB 1515 should make things easier for employers, the transition will take some work. Employers should notify employees about these changes and review the situation of all employees on leave during the transition on July 1 to better understand their impact.  

It is expected that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries will issue regulations to further clarify the new law, so employers should be on the lookout for that additional guidance.  

Need help streamlining paid leave tasks across your organization? Learn more about GovDocs Paid Leave.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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