Changes align two Oregon leave laws — easier for employers to manage
Posted June 22, 2023
Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed legislation (SB 999) that amends the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and the upcoming Paid Leave Oregon (PLO). The changes will better align the two laws in three ways.
Family member defined
Current OFLA: “Family member” is defined as an employee’s “spouse, same-gender domestic partner, biological child, adopted child, stepchild, foster child, same-gender domestic partner’s child, parent, adoptive parent, stepparent, foster parent, parent-in-law, same-gender domestic partner’s parent, grandparent, grandchild, and any individual with whom an employee has or had an in loco parentis relationship.”
Current PLO: “Family member” includes individuals covered by OFLA’s definition and adds anyone related to the employee by blood or who lives with or is connected to the employee like a family member and has a family relationship.
Coming up: Effective September 3, SB 999 expands the OFLA definition of family member to include anyone who is connect to an employee like family., as defined under PLO.
Also, by September 3, the Oregon Employment Department and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries are to adopt rules for:
- Establishing factors that show a significant personal bond exists for an individual to qualify as a family member, and
- Developing and using a form by which an employee may attest to those relationship factors.
Current OFLA: Employers must return employees who have taken OFLA leave to the same position if that position still exists. If the position no longer exists, employers may offer employees any available equivalent position with the same pay and benefits at a job site located within 20 miles of their former job site.
Current PLO: Employers must restore employees who have taken the leave to the same position if that position still exists. But if the position no longer exists, employers may offer employees any available equivalent position with the same pay and benefits.
Coming up: Effective September 3, if an employee’s position no longer exists upon returning from OFLA and/or PLO leave, employers must offer an employee any available equivalent position with the same pay and benefits at a job site located within 50 miles of the job site of the employee’s former position. If equivalent positions are available at multiple job sites, employers must first offer the employee the position at the job site that is nearest to the job site of the employee’s former position.
The timing of job protection rights remains different under OFLA and PLO:
- OFLA: Employees have job protection rights if they have been employed for at least 180 days and worked an average of 25 hours per week.
- PLO: Employees are entitled to job protection if they have been employed for at least 90 consecutive days with the employer.
Method to calculate the 12-month period
Current OFLA: Employers can choose from four methods for calculating the “one-year period” during which eligible employees may take OFLA leave:
- Forward looking (a.k.a., measured forward), where the leave period runs for 52 consecutive weeks beginning on the Sunday immediately preceding the date of which OFLA leave begins;
- The calendar year;
- A fiscal year; or
- The 12-month period measured backward from any time an employee takes leave (also known as the “rolling backward method”).
Current PLO: Employers must use the “forward-looking” method.
Coming up: Effective July 1, 2024, employers must use the “forward-looking” method for the “one-year” period under both OFLA and PLO.
This article was written by Darlene Clabault of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.