Oregon Legislature Makes Significant Changes to OFLA and PLO

Brand Story – The Oregon Legislature recently passed legislation that eliminates many redundancies between Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) and Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA).

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These changes will help many employers breathe a sigh of relief. Since the implementation of PLO in September 2023, employers have struggled with inconsistencies and conflicting rules between PLO and the state’s unpaid family leave program, OFLA. Senate Bill 1515, which Governor Tina Kotek signed into law on March 21, 2024, repeals duplication between the two programs and provides further clarity regarding their provisions. Most changes will take effect on July 1, 2024, except as noted below.

Changes to OFLA

Beginning July 1, 2024, employees can use OFLA leave only in the following situations:

  • To care for a child who requires home care due to an illness, injury, or even serious health condition (12 weeks in any one-year period)
  • Bereavement leave for the death of a family member (two weeks per each family member, four weeks maximum within any one-year period)
  • Leave for pregnancy disability
  • Leave for donating organs, body parts, or body tissue

In addition, employees can now take two additional weeks of leave to assist with placement or adoption of a child. From July 1, 2024, to December 31, 2024, this reason will be covered only by OFLA; beginning January 1, 2025, this reason will be covered only by PLO. 

Senate Bill 1515 also makes clear that OFLA leave will not run concurrently with PLO leave. Instead, any OFLA leave for the reasons outlined above will be in addition to PLO leave. This change eliminates leave stacking, which had been an ongoing concern due to the duplication between OFLA and PLO reasons.

Changes to PLO

Senate Bill 1515 also made the following changes to PLO:

  • A new express provision clarifying employees’ ability to use paid time off to “top up” their PLO benefits. Since PLO does not completely replace employees’ wages who make over a certain amount, under PLO, employees are entitled to use any accrued paid sick leave to “top up” their PLO benefits but only up to 100% of the employee’s wages. Employers may permit employees to use paid sick leave and receive more than 100% of their wages if they choose, but are not required to do so. In addition, employers may establish the order in which employees use accrued leaves.
  • No penalties for employers subject to Oregon’s predictive scheduling laws for changes to the schedule due to PLO. If an employee’s schedule must be changed as a result of returning to work after taking PLO and the employer is unable to provide 14 days’ notice ­­– the employer is no longer subject to penalty wages in this situation.
  • Clarification of the effect of workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits on PLO. Employees who are eligible for workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits will not receive PLO benefits. 
  • Garnishments. PLO benefits are now exempt from most forms of garnishment, with the exception of child or spousal support garnishments and restitution for crime victims.

In response to these changes, employers should take the following steps:

  • Update their leave policies to reflect these changes.
  • Update their leave-related forms and leave-tracking systems.
  • Clearly communicate with employees regarding these changes and the impact on their leave rights.

We will continue to monitor developments regarding these laws, inform employers of the latest updates, and assist in solving employer concerns as they navigate the new leave landscape in Oregon. 

This update is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have questions about the issues raised here, please contact any of the attorneys in our Labor & Employment Practice Group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.

Brand stories are paid content articles that allow Oregon Business advertisers to share news about their organizations and engage with readers on business and public policy issues.  The stories are produced in house by the Oregon Business marketing department. For more information, contact associate publisher Courtney Kutzman.