The 2023 Oregon Legislative session will be ending soon. When it does, we will do a comprehensive report on the changes that each employer needs to think about. There is one piece of legislation that needs your attention quickly. Many of you are aware of the benefits window opening for all employees to use their Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) insurance. The goal with that implementation was to align, as closely as possible, with the existing unpaid protected leave provided by the Oregon Medical Leave Act (OFLA). (Quick reminder: OFLA applies to all employers with 25 or more employees in Oregon.) The alignment of these two requirements has not been easy.
Senate Bill 999 has amended OFLA and several of the effective dates to align with the opening of the PLO benefits window. The changes are as follows:
- Effective 9/3/2023: The definition of “family” member is changing to include siblings and “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with a covered individual is the equivalent of a family relationship.” Both BOLI and the Employment Department are directed to write rules regarding factors that would establish an affinity. Each organization will want to review any forms they are using for the purposes of OFLA and amend them to include these additions.
- Effective 9/3/2023: Expansion of job protection to a role within 50 miles (rather than 20) of the former position (if their former position does not exist), and if multiple roles remain available then the closest role (to their former positions) must be offered first.
- Effective 9/3/2023: If the employer elects to cover any part of an employee’s health, disability, life, or other insurance coverage while the employee is on leave (since employers will not be able to take deductions from Paid Leave Oregon benefit payments), the employer may deduct this advancement upon the employee’s return to work, so long as the amount deducted per pay period does not exceed ten percent (10%) of the employee’s gross pay.
- Effective 7/1/2024: The one-year benefit period will include all of the options that have always been in place, and the addition of the same option we find in PLO which states “a) the 52 weeks beginning on the Sunday immediately preceding the date on which family leave commences.” Organizations are not required to change. Employers should consider changing if they want better alignment with PLO. If an organization chooses to change their one-year benefit period, they are required to give employees 60 days’ notice prior to the effective date of the change.