In anticipation of Paid Leave Oregon, a new paid family leave benefit for Oregon employees, the Oregon legislature recently passed a bill that creates new entitlements for Oregon employees and aligns existing law with the forthcoming paid leave benefit. Senate Bill 999 (2023) revises the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) in two significant ways. First, the amendments expand the definition of a covered family member to include siblings and stepsiblings, as well as their respective spouse or domestic partner, and any individual with whom an employee has a “close association” that is “equivalent to a family relationship.” The statutory updates align OFLA entitlements with corresponding paid leave benefits available under Paid Leave Oregon after September 3, 2023, ensuring that OFLA and Paid Leave Oregon will run concurrently in most circumstances.
Second, the amendments provide that employers may define the “leave year” for OFLA purposes as “beginning on the Sunday immediately preceding the date on which family leave commences.” Under Paid Leave Oregon, the “benefit year” is to be determined rolling forward– beginning on the Sunday immediately preceding the date on which paid benefits commence. The amendments thus, once again, reflect an effort to maximize the time periods during which OFLA and Paid Leave Oregon will run concurrently. Under the bill, while employers may continue to define the OFLA leave year as any consecutive 12-month period, employers are required to migrate to a rolling-forward leave year no later than July 1, 2024.
The expanded OFLA entitlements are scheduled to become effective on September 3, 2023, the same day Paid Leave Oregon benefits become available. The amendments mandating a rolling-forward leave year become effective on July 1, 2024. In light of the statutory revisions, Oregon employers should review their leave policies to ensure compliance with the new rules. Employers that are also covered by the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will want to consider whether changes to FMLA policies are warranted.
If you have any questions regarding this or other legislation affecting the workplace, please reach out to any Jackson Lewis attorney.