Together with the Time to Care Oregon coalition, we passed the country’s most inclusive paid family and medical leave law in the nation!

We’ve gathered answers to some of the most frequently asked questions — but because this is a brand new, statewide program, we might not have gotten all of them! If you have a question that hasn’t been answered here, email us (info@familyforward.org) or send us a message on social media.  

Oregon’s new paid family and medical leave insurance:
  • Is available to all working Oregonians
  • Recognizes different family types
  • Protects workers from discrimination and retaliation for using it 
  • Is affordable for all workers and employers
  • Provides a meaningful amount of time to give or get the care we need
  • And is funded through a social insurance pool.

Starting in 2023, everyone working in Oregon will have paid family and medical leave insurance. No matter what kind of work you do or industry you work in, what size company you work for, how much you make, or whether you work part-time or full-time — as long as you earn at least $1,000 a year, you are covered!

Paid family and medical leave insurance goes beyond providing time to prepare for and bond with a new baby, whether post-pregnancy, surrogacy, adoption or fostering. 

In addition to maternity and paternity leave, Oregonians will also be able to take paid time away from work when getting treatment for or recovering from a serious illness, injury, surgery, or other health condition; when they need to care for a loved one recovering from a serious illness or health condition; or when they need to deal with issues related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking.

We’ve updated the definition of family member, so that you can use paid family and medical leave when you need to care for anyone in your family — a partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or anyone who you have a family-like relationship with.

No. Paid family and medical leave insurance can be used when you need to care for a loved one (or care for yourself) who is recovering from a serious accident or surgery, dealing with an unexpected illness, or undergoing regular treatment such as chemotherapy.

Paid family and medical leave insurance also covers “safe leave” for dealing with issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Yes! Paid family and medical leave is available for those who have regular and predictable medical or caregiving needs, such as weekly or monthly chemotherapy or dialysis. 

For instance, if you need to take a full day off work to be at a dialysis appointment every Friday and have a note from your medical professional confirming this, you would be able to work with your employer and the state to use the benefit to get that day off work each week and receive replacement wages (up to the yearly cap set by the state program).

The benefit is also available to anyone who needs to take non-consecutive leave for caregiving responsibilities or ongoing / regular medical care needs for a serious health condition. For example, someone whose aging parent needs full-time care can use paid leave to provide care for two days a week to balance care provided by another family member on the other days. In these cases, paid leave will be allotted in full-day increments.

Your replacement wages will vary, depending on how much you earn. We wanted to make sure that those who need paid leave the most (those with the lowest incomes) would actually be able to afford to take time off from work. 

 

If your income is close to minimum wage (less than 65% of Oregon’s $976 average weekly wage, AWW), 100% of your wages will be replaced. If your income is higher than 65% of AWW, your wage replacement will be slightly lower than the wages you typically receive (no more than $1,200/week). (That cap on replacement wages will go up in accordance with rising wages statewide.)

For example, someone paid $15 hour who works 40 hours a week earns less than 65% of Oregon’s $976 average weekly wage, so they will receive 100% of their wages, or $600 a week. 

The maximum amount anyone could get in replacement wages, regardless of how high their income is, is 130% of that year’s average weekly wage. So, if the program existed this year, the most anyone could get in replacement wages each week would be just above $1,200 — even if they’re typically paid more than that.

You can qualify for up to 12 paid weeks a year for all of the purposes listed above. Birthing parents can also qualify for 2 more weeks of paid leave for pregnancy or childbirth-related condition, for a total of 14 paid weeks a year. 

If you also qualify for Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA, Oregon’s unpaid leave law), you may be able to take 4 additional unpaid weeks in addition to the paid 12 (or 14) for any covered purpose.

Paid family and medical leave insurance works like other socially-funded insurance programs, like Social Security and unemployment insurance. 

Starting in 2022, employees and employers will pay a very small percentage into the state-run insurance fund each month. Since this small amount would come straight from your paycheck, there’s no additional cost for you to pay or extra work to do!

The employee-employer contributions will total no more than 1% of an employee’s wages:  Employees will pay 0.6% and employers will pay 0.4%, totaling 1% of the employee’s payroll.  For example, if your typical payroll wages are $2,000, 1% of your wages is $20. Your contribution (0.6% of $2,000) comes out to $12.00 and your employer’s contribution (0.4% of $2,000) comes out to $8.00, totaling $20 (1% of $2,000).

No. Paid family and medical leave insurance is a universal program that all workers will contribute to, and have access to when they need it — just like other insurance programs. The regular contributions are small (pennies on the dollar!) and will add up to be hugely beneficial for those who need to use the insurance, which is everyone!

Employers with fewer than 25 employees can opt out of paying the employer contribution. If they choose to opt in and pay the contribution, they can qualify for state grants to offset related costs, such as costs for hiring replacement employees, paying other employees overtime, etc. All employees, regardless of the size of their employer, will still be covered by the program.

Employers (with any number of employees) are allowed to opt their entire staff out of the insurance program only if they offer an equal or better private program at no additional cost to theirs employees. That program would need to match every element of the state program — type of leave covered, who counts as family, number of weeks, replacement wages, etc.

Yes! Whether or not your employer opts in to paying the contribution, you will still be covered by the insurance program and will have access to all of the same benefits, including job protection. 

Yes! Whether you work part-time or full-time, year-round or seasonal, as long as you have earned $1,000 in Oregon in the year before you need to take leave, you will qualify to use the insurance.

If you have worked for an employer for 90 days or longer, you qualify for employment protections. These protections mean that you can’t get fired or face workplace consequences if you use the leave benefit. And when you take time off from work, your job (or an equivalent position) is guaranteed to be there for you when you get back. You will also have continued access to your employer-provided health care benefits for the duration of your paid time off.

Yes! If you are self-employed (or a member of a tribal government), you can opt in to be covered by paid family and medical leave insurance for a period of 3 years. Similar to full-time and part-time employees, you will contribute a small percentage of your payroll to the program fund, which you will be able to access during that 3-year period. At the end of that period, you’ll be able to decide if you want to opt in again or not.

When you need to use paid family and medical leave insurance, you will submit a claim to the Oregon Employment Department (as opposed to your employer), much like the process for submitting an unemployment insurance claim. The Oregon Employment Department will verify your eligibility and will determine your wage replacement amount. 

You will also notify your employer of your paid family and medical leave claim, so that they can prepare for your absence.

Yes. The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are programs that provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for all of the same uses as Oregon’s new paid family and medical leave program, plus some additional uses. The biggest differences between OFLA and FMLA, and Oregon’s new insurance program are that OFLA and FMLA provide unpaid leave. They also differ when it comes to how big your employer is: OFLA protection is available to those who work for an employer with 25 or more employees in Oregon, and FMLA is available to those who work for an employer with 50 or more employees across the country. 

If you need family or medical leave, you may qualify for both the new paid family and medical leave insurance and OFLA at the same time. In almost all cases, if you use any of your paid leave insurance, the amount of unpaid, protected leave available through OFLA will run down simultaneously. For purposes not covered by paid family and medical leave insurance (like bereavement leave or military leave), you will still be covered by unpaid leave through OFLA.

Note that you can choose whether or not to use paid family and medical leave insurance or unpaid leave through OFLA at your time of need. 

In order to successfully set up and run this brand-new statewide program, significant work needs to be completed, programs need to be set up, and staff need to be trained. The state will begin collecting payroll contributions on January 1, 2022, and the insurance will be available to use beginning January 1, 2023.

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