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Job-Protected Paid Leave Starts Soon (Even for Small Employers): Compliance Reminder

As a reminder, eligible employees can start taking job-protected paid leave through Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) on September 3, 2023. PLO is a state insurance program that provides monetary benefits to nearly all employees for certain family, medical, and safe leave purposes. Additionally, PLO requires employers of all sizes to provide job protection and group health benefits continuation while employees are out on covered leave.

The program is funded through payroll contributions and administered by the Oregon Employment Department (OED). Employers do not make these payments to employees.

Below are a few key aspects of the law. Visit the state’s website to browse their FAQs, guides, fact sheets, and other resources for employers.

 

Employee Eligibility

The state will determine an employee’s eligibility when they apply. To be eligible for Paid Leave benefits, an employee must have earned $1,000 in the previous year. To be entitled to job protection and continuation of health care coverage, the employee must have worked for their current employer for at least 90 days before taking leave.

The OED will notify employers about the following:

  • When an employee applies for leave
  • Whether leave has been approved or denied
  • Leave start and end dates
  • Leave amounts
  • Leave schedule (consecutive or intermittent)

 

All other information about an employee’s claim is confidential.

 

Amount of Leave and Use

Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of Paid Leave per year for any combination of family, medical, or safe leave. Employees can take an additional two weeks for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.

Family leave is to care for a family member with a serious health condition or to bond with a new child. Medical leave is for the employee’s own serious health condition. Safe leave is for domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking.

If the employee’s Paid Leave also qualifies for OFLA or FMLA, then the leaves will run concurrently.

 

Action Items

  • Add a PLO policy to your handbook or new employee packet.
  • If you haven’t already, add the PLO Noticeto your new hire packet and display it somewhere conspicuous in the workplace.
  • Prepare to provide extended job-protected leaves if you were not already subject to OFLA or FMLA.

 

State’s Leave Laws Set to Align: OFLA, PLO, and Sick Time Changes

Oregon has updated several aspects of the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) to align with its new paid family and medical leave law, Paid Leave Oregon (PLO). The changes should assist employers in managing the overlap between these two benefits. PLO benefits became available on September 3, 2023, which is also when the new definition of “family member” under OFLA took effect. More information on PLO is coming in the next few days.

 

Because Oregon Sick Time uses the same definition of family member as OFLA, the Sick Time law is effectively amended as well.

 

Definition of Family Member

The definition of family member under OFLA—and Oregon’s Sick Time law—will match the PLO definition. The new definition expands the relationships that qualify as family.

 

Family member will now include an employee’s:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling (which includes stepsiblings)
  • Spouse or domestic partner of their child, parent, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild
  • Any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with a covered individual is the equivalent of a family relationship (e.g., a boyfriend or girlfriend, honorary aunts and uncles, best friends, or roommates)

 

Leaves Run Concurrently

OFLA must run concurrently with PLO—not in addition to it—when the leave reason qualifies under both laws.

 

Action Items

  • If your OFLA or Oregon sick leave policies define family member, update the definition to comply with these changes or remove the detailed definition entirely.
  • Ensure that you are running OFLA concurrently with PLO when the absence qualifies for both types of leave.

 

Leave for Service on State Boards and Commissions Enacted

Effective September 24, 2023, it is unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against any employee due to their service or scheduled service as an appointed member of a state board or commission.

 

Additionally, an employer cannot require an employee to use vacation leave, sick leave, or annual leave for state board or commission service leave. The employer must allow the employee to take leave without pay.

 

To be afforded these protections, an employee must give the employer at least 21 days’ advance notice of any time the employee needs to spend in service as an appointed member of a state board or commission.

HR Services Team
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