Starting on August 14, employees in Oregon may submit an application for benefits under the state’s new paid leave policy. Paid Leave Oregon is a program that offers paid family, medical, and safe leave to working Oregonians.
Due to a law the Legislature approved in 2019, Oregon is the 12th state in the country with paid family and medical leave for employees. Oregonians may be eligible for leave for the following reasons:
- A kid joining their family, whether via birth, adoption, or placement in foster care.
- Taking care of their own needs because of a severe medical condition.
- Taking care of a family member who suffers from a serious illness.
- If s*xual assault, domestic violence, harassment, or stalking occurs to them or their children. It is referred to as “safe leave.”
Officials from the Oregon Employment Department concluded the trust fund, which collects employer and employee payroll deductions, will be solvent and prepared to begin benefits the week of September 3. As a result, this week will mark the beginning of the employees’ paid leave. According to state officials, payments will be made within two weeks of the beginning of their leave.
According to Karen Madden Humelbaugh, director of Paid Leave Oregon, “We’re opening up the application process a little early so we can handle that big influx of initial applications we expect.”
According to Humelbaugh, the state is unable to compensate those who took time off prior to September 3. State officials anticipate a high initial demand followed by a leveling off. They anticipate that during the initial rollout, roughly 41,000 employees will request leave, and that number will gradually level off at about 12,000 requests per month.
The fact that employees can take time off for childbirth or the addition of a new member to the family within the first year is one factor contributing to the initial period’s higher claims volume.
Humelbaugh remarked, “You do have all those people whose child maybe 10 months old, so they could take the last two months or something like that.”
What Does It Do?
Employers and employees began making contributions to a trust fund in January 2023, which would be used to pay for employee-paid leave benefits. Employees will be qualified for up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year, or 14 weeks for maternity leave.
State legislators decided to postpone the beginning of contributions from January 2022 to January 2023 in 2021 as the Oregon Employment Department worked on a project to update its systems in preparation for the pandemic.
Paid Leave Oregon is funded by a 1% of gross payroll contribution from both employers and employees. Employees contribute 60%, with the remaining 40% coming from major firms with 25 or more employees.
The tweet below confirms the news:
The employee’s portion for an employee making $50,000 in annual gross pay is $300, while the company will contribute $200. Employers with less than 25 workers are not required to contribute, but their employees do so anyway and are still covered by the scheme.
Employees who work part-time or who hold multiple jobs are eligible.
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The scheme will pay benefits according to an employee’s income on a sliding scale. Many Oregonians with low incomes will be qualified to receive all of their compensation while on paid leave. Oregonians earning the minimum wage, for instance, will continue to get 100% of their normal wages while on paid leave.
For Oregonians with high incomes, the share is less. A person making $2,555.78 per week, or $133,000 yearly, would receive $1,469.78 in paid time off.
The majority of workers are protected, with the exception of tribal governments, independent contractors, and business owners who work for themselves. They do have the option to take part in the program, though.
Employees of the federal government are not eligible. Employers who provide comparable paid leave benefits may choose not to participate in the state’s program.
Senate Bill 31, which mandates that the Oregon Employment Department confirm the Paid Leave Oregon trust fund is solvent before beginning any payouts, was passed by the legislature during the 2023 legislative session.
“Just like any new statewide program of this size, we know we will have to adjust along the way,” Humelbaugh said. “SB 31 was good contingency planning, and we will continue to work with the Legislature and other key partners as we monitor the program’s progress after launch.”
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