Pension & Benefits News Oregon lawmakers approve paid family and medical leave insurance program
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Friday, August 2, 2019

Oregon lawmakers approve paid family and medical leave insurance program

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

The Oregon Legislature has finalized a paid family and medical leave insurance program that, if signed by Democratic Governor Kate Brown, would make the state the eighth in the nation to provide such guarantees, according to those who are counting.

Under H.B. 2005, the paid leave program, known as "FAMLI," would be administered by the Oregon Employment Department, or a third party contracting with the Department, to provide employees with compensated time off for up to 12 weeks per year to:

  • Care for and bond with a child during the first year of the child’s birth or arrival through adoption or foster care;
  • Provide care for a family member who has a serious health condition;
  • Recover from their own serious health condition;
  • Take leave related to domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, or harassment (called "safe leave").

The legislation, which would require employer and employee contributions to fund the program, establishes requirements for employers related to those contributions. There would be an exemption from employer contribution requirements, however, for employers with fewer than 25 employees.

Job protections. The bill would protect eligible employees’ jobs while they are on leave if they have been employed by their employer for 90 days before commencing leave. Employers would be prohibited from retaliating against employees who inquire about rights or responsibilities under the family and medical leave insurance program, as well as from interfering with employee rights under the program.

Benefit amounts: The bill would require the Director of the Employment Department to set the weekly benefit amount (the state average weekly covered wage) of family and medical leave insurance benefits that a covered individual qualifies for as follows:

  • If the eligible employee’s average weekly wage is equal to or less than 65 percent of the average weekly wage, 100 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage.
  • If the eligible employee’s average weekly wage is greater than 65 percent of the average weekly wage, 65 percent of the average weekly wage and 50 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage that is greater than 65 percent of the average weekly wage.

The Director would also establish a maximum weekly benefit amount of 120 percent of the average weekly wage and a minimum weekly benefit amount of five percent of the average weekly wage.

Among other things, the legislation would establish a right for civil action for certain employer violations.

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