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Oregon Legislature Makes Significant Changes to Oregon Family Leave Laws

Updates in Employment Law

On February 27, 2024, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1515 to align the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and the Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML). PFML is commonly referred to as Paid Leave Oregon. Both laws require covered employers to give eligible employees leave for certain qualifying reasons, such as for the employee’s own serious health condition or for reasons related to pregnancy and childbirth. Because the two laws provide overlapping, duplicative leave benefits, compliance has been complex and an administrative challenge for employers. Senate Bill 1515 aims to better align the two laws and eliminate overlap issues.

Governor Kotek signed the bill into law on March 20, 2024. Most changes will go into effect on July 1, 2024. The changes are significant.

As a reminder, OFLA applies to Oregon employers that employ 25 or more employees. PFML applies to all Oregon employers except federal or tribal governments.


Key Changes

  • Employees will no longer be able to take OFLA leave for their own serious health condition, for a family member’s serious health condition, or for leave to care for an infant, newly adopted child, or newly placed foster child. Eligible employees will be able to apply for and use PFML leave for these reasons.
  • Eligible employees will be able to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid OFLA leave per leave year to care for the employee’s child who has an illness, injury, or condition that requires home care or if the employee’s child’s school or daycare is closed due to a public health emergency.
  • Eligible employees will be able to take unpaid OFLA bereavement leave for the death of a family member. Bereavement leave will be capped at two weeks per death up to a maximum of four weeks per leave year.
  • Eligible employees will still be able to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid OFLA leave per leave year for the employee’s own illness, injury, or condition related to pregnancy or childbirth that disables the employee from performing available job duties (“pregnancy disability leave”). Eligible employees may also be eligible for leave under PFML for pregnancy disability leave. Employees who are eligible for pregnancy disability leave may be able to take up to an additional twelve weeks of unpaid OFLA leave during the same leave year for another qualifying reason, such as OFLA leave to care for the employee’s child who has an illness that requires home care.
  • Between July 1, 2024, and December 31, 2024, eligible employees may take an additional two weeks of OFLA leave to “effectuate the legal process required for placement of a foster child or the adoption of a child.” Beginning on January 1, 2025, this leave will be covered by PFML.
  • Employers must allow employees to use any accrued sick leave, vacation, or other paid time off in addition to PFML paid benefits so long as the combination of accrued paid time off and PFML paid benefits do not exceed the employee’s regular rate of pay.  An employer may voluntarily choose to allow an employee to use accrued sick leave, vacation, or other paid time off which, in combination with PFML benefits, would exceed the employee’s regular pay.
  • Employers that are subject to Oregon’s predictive scheduling law will be given leeway to make schedule changes if an employee provides less than fourteen days’ notice of the need for OFLA leave or PFML leave. In that circumstance, the employer may change the schedule of the employee who is temporarily assigned to cover shifts for the employee who is on OFLA or PFML leave. The employer will not be obligated pay additional compensation to the rescheduled employee under the predictive scheduling law.

Key Employer Takeaways

With the signing of Senate Bill 1515, employers should have an easier time coordinating leave benefits under OFLA and PFML. Employers should review their written leave policies and procedures and revise them to comply with these changes. Employers should keep in mind that Senate Bill 1515 does not affect the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Eligible employees of employers covered by FMLA may be able to stack FMLA leave benefits with other leave benefits.

Employers with questions about compliance should contact legal counsel. Buckley Law, P.C. is working with its clients to update their handbooks and agreements to meet the law’s obligations. We are here to partner with you. If you have questions or need legal assistance on employment law, please contact Jillian A. Pollock or William E. Gaar at 503-620-8900.

Jillian A. Pollock

Jillian A. Pollock is a shareholder in the firm’s employment law practice group. Her practice includes representing employers in federal and state court proceedings and in administrative proceedings. Her practice also includes employment counseling.

This material is provided for informational purposes only. The provision of this material does not create an attorney-client relationship between the firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this article are not a substitute for legal counsel. Do not take action in reliance on the contents of this material without seeking the advice of counsel.