Senate Bill 1515 – New Oregon Law Aligns Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and Paid Leave Oregon (PLO)

The Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1515 and it was signed by the governor on March 20, 2024. This bill makes dramatic changes to Oregon’s leave laws which will simplify the administration of the OFLA and PLO benefits.  The new regulations become effective July 1, 2024.   

When PLO went into effect on September 3, 2023, it created overlap with OFLA.  SB 1515 is intended to eliminate some of the confusion for employers when administering the two leave requirements.   

SB 1515 mandates several changes, including eliminating many protected leaves under OFLA.  This will have the effect of directing most leave benefits through PLO.   

OFLA Benefits under SB 1515 

OFLA will not be eliminated entirely.  It still exists, and still generally applies to employers with more than 25 employees in Oregon.  When SB 1515 becomes effective on July 1, 2024, the list of OFLA qualifying events will get much shorter and will be limited to the following: 

  • Leave to care for a child who requires home care due to illness, injury, health condition, or school/care provider closure due to public health emergency (up to 12 weeks in a one-year period).  Sick child leave is expanded to include home care of a child even if the child needs home care for a serious condition. 
  • From July 1, 2024, through January 1, 2025, OFLA will provide up to two additional weeks of leave to facilitate the legal processes required for placement of a foster child or adoption. (PLO will incorporate this leave beginning 2025). 
  • Two weeks of family bereavement leave for a family member’s death, not exceeding four weeks in a one-year period. 
  • Leave for pregnancy or childbirth disability of up to 12 weeks in a one-year period.  Under OFLA, an employee may take up to 12 weeks of pregnancy disability and still have 12 weeks available for any other purpose. 
  • OFLA leave will be in addition to leave taken under PLO and may not be taken concurrently with PLO.   

Important OFLA Administrative Rule Updates 

On March 2, 2024, Oregon finalized rulemaking that affected OFLA and the sick time law.  Many of the updates were technical adjustments to bring continuity and clarification to the state’s various leave laws.   

The final rule included two important changes that align eligibility between OFLA and PLO benefits.   

  • Change to OFLA definition of one-year period.  By July 1, 2024, employers need to change their OFLA leave year to a “measure forward” period to match PLO.  A one-year period will be measured as a period of 52 consecutive weeks beginning on the Sunday immediately preceding the date on which family leave begins. 
  • Definition of family member under OFLA was updated to include the broad definition of “individual who is related by affinity”, using the same definition as PLO.    

Visit the BOLI website for additional information on OFLA. 

PLO Benefits under SB 1515 

PLO benefits will generally remain the same and include: 

  • Family Leave to care for a family member with a serious illness or injury, or to bond with a new child after birth, adoption or foster care placement. 
  • Medical Leave during your own serious health condition. 
  • Safe Leave for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, or stalking. 

PLO Coordination with Other Accrued Leave “Topping Off” of Wages 

Currently employers have the option to allow or deny the use of other accrued paid time off in addition to PLO benefits. Under SB 1515, employees must be allowed to “top off” PLO benefits by using accrued paid time off, including sick leave, paid vacation or any other employer paid leave.  Employers may cap the income replacement from accrued paid leave and PLO benefits at the employee’s regular full wage.  Employers also have the option of allowing combined PLO benefits and accrued paid leave to exceed the employee’s full wage. 

The requirement not to exceed the employee’s regular pay will be difficult for employers to administer since the Oregon Employment Department (OED), who administers PLO benefits, does not share benefit information with employers.  The OED has been tasked with creating rules to allow for sharing this information.  

Predictive Scheduling Exception for Short Notice Schedule Changes 

Oregon’s predictive scheduling law requires certain employers to provide written work schedules to employees at least two weeks in advance of the first day of work on the schedule.  SB 1515 includes an exception for making short-notice schedule changes needed for staffing changes due to employees beginning or returning from leave under OFLA or PLO. 

Employer Actions 

Eligible employers should revise their OFLA and PLO policies and procedures, including the adoption of a measured forward leave year for OFLA. Additionally, employers should train managers on the changes.  

We expect additional guidance closer to the effective date of these changes, and we will keep our readers informed.  We encourage employers to sign up for the BOLI list for updates and training announcements.  Sign up here.  

Author: Michele McCall | Compliance Manager, Employee Benefits

 

Bolton will continue to monitor regulator guidance and offer meaningful, practical, timely information. 

This material should not be considered as a substitute for legal, tax and/or actuarial advice. Contact the appropriate professional counsel for such matters. These materials are not exhaustive and are subject to possible changes in applicable laws, rules, and regulations and their interpretations. 


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