New Paid Family Leave Passed
Oregon has joined a growing number of states to require employers to provide their workers paid family and medical leave. Oregon becomes the eighth state (after Connecticut) to require paid family and medical leave for eligible employees. The other states currently offering paid family and medical leave are California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington, in addition to the District of Columbia. Eligible employees as defined in this Act and employers may begin making contributions to the program no later than January 1, 2022. The law will not kick in until January 1, 2023.
“Family leave” means leave from work taken by a covered individual:
- To care for and bond with a child during the first year after the child’s birth or during the first year after the placement of the child through foster care or adoption; or
- To care for a family member with a serious health condition.
“Family member” means:
- The spouse of a covered individual;
- A child of a covered individual or the child’s spouse or domestic partner;
- A parent of a covered individual or the parent’s spouse or domestic partner
- A sibling or step-sibling of a covered individual or the sibling’s or step-sibling’s spouse or domestic partner;
- A grandparent of a covered individual or the grandparent’s spouse or domestic partner;
- A grandchild of a covered individual or the grandchild’s spouse or domestic partner;
- The domestic partner of a covered individual; or
- Any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with a covered individual is the equivalent of a family relationship.
“Medical leave” means leave from work taken by a covered individual that is made necessary by the individual’s own serious health condition.
“Safe leave” means leave taken for any purpose described in 659A.272.
Eligibility and Benefits
A covered individual may qualify for up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave insurance benefits per benefit year for leave taken for any of the following purposes, in any combination:
- Family leave;
- Medical leave; or
- Safe leave.
A covered individual who has taken any amount of paid leave available in this section may take a total of 16 weeks of leave in the benefit year in any combination of the paid leave available in this section, not to exceed 12 weeks and unpaid leave under ORS 659 A.159 for which the covered individual is eligible under ORS 659 A.156 (“ORS” – Oregon State Legislature). The leave may be taken for any purpose for which leave is allowable under the respective leave programs. An employee who has earned at least $1,000 in wages is eligible. It will also provide paid leave for victims of domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault. Oregon will be only the second state after New Jersey to include victims of domestic violence in its paid family leave law.
In addition to the leave available as stated above, a covered individual may qualify for up to two additional weeks of benefits for limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, including but not limited to lactation, for a total amount of leave which does not to exceed 18 weeks per benefit year.
Employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to pay employer contributions. Or if a private employer offers a plan of equal or greater benefit.
Coordination of Leave
Any family leave or medical leave which is taken under sections 1 to 51 of this 2019 Act must be taken concurrently with any leave taken by an eligible employee under ORS 659 A.150 to 659 A.186 (“ORS” – Oregon State Legislature) or under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 for the same purposes.
- Family and medical leave insurance benefits are in addition to any paid sick time, vacation leave or other paid leave earned by an employee.
- An employer may permit an employee to use paid sick time, vacation leave or any other paid leave earned by the employee in addition to receiving paid family and medical leave insurance benefits to replace an employee’s wages up to 100 percent of the eligible employee’s average weekly wage during a period of leave taken for family leave, medical leave or safe leave.
- In any week in which an employee is eligible to receive workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits, the employee is disqualified from receiving family and medical leave insurance benefits.
Amount of Benefits
The Director of the Employment Department shall set the weekly benefit amount of family and medical leave insurance benefits that a covered individual qualifies for as follows:
- If the eligible employee’s average weekly wage is equal to or less than 65 percent of the average weekly wage, the employee’s weekly benefit amount shall be 100 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage.
- If the eligible employee’s average weekly wage is greater than 65 percent of the average weekly wage, the employee’s weekly benefit amount is the sum of 65 percent of the average weekly wage and 50 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage that is greater than 65 percent of the average weekly wage.
- The director shall establish a maximum weekly benefit amount of 120 percent of the average weekly wage and minimum weekly benefit amount of five percent of the average weekly wage.
An employer may require an eligible employee to give the employer written notice at least 30 days before commencing a period of family leave, medical leave or safe leave. The employer may require the employee to include in the notice an explanation of the need for the leave.
An employer shall provide written notice to each employee of the duties and rights of an eligible employee under sections 1 to 51 of this 2019 Act in accordance with rules adopted by the Director of the Employment Department.
An employee who alleges a violation of this section may bring a civil action under ORS 659 A.885 or may file a complaint with the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries in the manner provided by ORS 659 A.820.