New Guidance Permits Oregon Employers to Rescind Previously Protected Unpaid Family and Medical Leave Effective July 1, 2024

Oregon’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (“Paid Leave Oregon”) generally provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid time off for leave that qualifies as family, medical, or safe leave. Since Paid Leave Oregon took effect on September 3, 2023, employees have been stacking Paid Leave Oregon leave benefits and Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) leave benefits, leaving employers frustrated with staffing shortages. Recently enacted Oregon SB 1515 provides some relief to Oregon employers and leave administrators who have struggled with navigating the complexities of employee leave requests. Effective, July 1, 2024, Paid Leave Oregon will become the primary—but not exclusive—source of the leave entitlements employees had under OFLA.

On May 8, 2024, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) issued temporary and proposed rules to help employers navigate these changes and the new leave law landscape. The following discusses Paid Leave Oregon and OFLA changes beginning July 1, 2024.

Serious Health Condition and Family Bonding Leave Will Be Available Under Paid Leave Oregon Instead of OFLA

Effective July 1, 2024, OFLA will no longer cover family leave (aka parental bonding leave), or serious health condition leave for an employee or their family member. Family leave and serious health condition leave will be solely covered under Paid Leave Oregon. On and after July 1, 2024, OFLA leave will only be available for the following reasons:

  • Sick child leave to provide home care for a child (including home care for a child with a serious health condition);
  • To care for a child of the employee or spouse or domestic partner whose school or childcare provider has been closed in conjunction with a declared public health emergency;
  • Bereavement leave up to four weeks per year;
  • Pregnancy-related disability leave (this leave is in addition to other leave available under OFLA and Paid Leave Oregon); and
  • Leave to effectuate the legal process required for placement of a foster child or the adoption of a child (child placement leave) for a total of two weeks, through December 31, 2024.

While Paid Leave Oregon will continue to run concurrently with leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers will no longer be able to run OFLA leave concurrently with Paid Leave Oregon. This means that employees may still stack and receive a total of 24 weeks of Paid Leave Oregon and OFLA for pregnancy-related disability/medical leave. Additionally, an employee may stack and receive a total of 24 weeks of Paid Leave Oregon and OFLA sick child leave for a child’s serious health condition where the child also requires home care.

What About Employees Already Approved or Designated for OFLA Leave Occurring on or after July 1, 2024?

Employers may rescind leave previously protected by OFLA with written notice to the employee on or before June 1, 2024: Under the temporary rule, covered employers may rescind a designation or approval of leave previously protected by OFLA that is scheduled to occur on or after July 1, 2024. In situations where an eligible employee would be entitled to OFLA leave on June 30, 2024, but will no longer be entitled to OFLA leave on July 1, 2024, employers must, as soon as practicable but no later than June 1, 2024, notify the employee in writing that the leave will not be protected by OFLA on and after July 1, 2024.

Employers Must Provide Written Information About Paid Leave Oregon Benefits: Employers must provide written information to eligible employees who were designated or approved for leave previously protected by OFLA of the ability to apply for Paid Leave Oregon benefits. The notice must include contact information for Paid Leave Oregon or the administrator of the employer’s equivalent plan. This notice must be provided with the written notice of leave rescission, or as soon as practicable but within 14 calendar days of the employee’s providing the employer with information that before July 1, 2024, would have been sufficient for the employer to provisionally designate the leave as leave previously protected by OFLA.

Proposed OFLA Rules

BOLI’s temporary rule on leave previously protected by OFLA is effective May 8, 2024 through July 1, 2024. BOLI has proposed additional amendments to OFLA and the Oregon Sick Leave rules, and is accepting comments through June 21, 2024. These proposed amendments include aligning pre-existing OFLA and Sick Leave rules and definitions to the SB 1515 legislative changes.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers should prepare and issue the required written notices on or before June 1, 2024. Employers should make sure they have reviewed and revised their Paid Leave Oregon and OFLA leave policies and tracking systems for implementation effective July 1, 2024. Employers should stay tuned for additional proposed Paid Leave Oregon rules and further updates after BOLI’s proposed rules are finalized.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.