2023 Legislative Wrap-Up – Key Changes for Oregon Employers
The 2023 Oregon Legislative session adjourned June 25, 2023. Below is a summary of the bills impacting Oregon employers that passed this session.
SB 999 aims to more closely align Paid Leave Oregon and the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA). The bill has been signed into law and went into effect June 7, 2023. Specifically, the bill makes the following changes:
It amends OFLA to clarify that if the reason for an OFLA leave also qualifies under Paid Leave Oregon and/or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the leave must be taken concurrently, and not in addition to, Paid Leave Oregon and/or FMLA.
It amends OFLA’s one-year benefit period. As of July 1, 2024, the benefit period can begin either (a) the Sunday immediately preceding the date on which family leave commences and continuing for 52 weeks (the same as Paid Leave Oregon) or (b) another date and continuing for a 12-month period such as the beginning of the calendar year, fiscal year, the date an employee commences family leave or the 12-month period that ends on the date the employee uses family leave.
It amends OFLA’s definition of “family member” to align with the definition in Paid Leave Oregon which will now include siblings as well as “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with a covered individual is the equivalent of a family relationship.” Both the Bureau of Labor and Industries (“BOLI”) and the Oregon Employment Department are tasked with adopting rules regarding factors that would establish a significant personal bond for purposes of determining affinity and claimant attestation of these affinity factors. This portion of the bill takes effect September 3, 2023.
It amends OFLA and Paid Leave Oregon to expand job protections for employees who take family leave. When an individual returns from leave and an equivalent position is not available at that job site, employers must now offer an equivalent position at a job site located within 50 (previously 20) miles of the former position, if such a position is available. If equivalent positions are available at multiple job sites, employers must first offer the employee the position at the job site that is nearest to the job site of the employee’s former position.
It amends Paid Leave Oregon to clarify that health care benefits continue for the duration of leave provided the employee continues to make their regular contributions. If the employer elects to cover any part of an employee’s health, disability, life, or other insurance coverage while the employee is on leave (since employers will not be able to take deductions from Paid Leave Oregon benefit payments), the employer may deduct this advancement upon the employee’s return to work, so long as the amount deducted per pay period does not exceed ten percent (10%) of the employee’s gross pay.
HB 3471 makes it an unlawful employment practice for employer to make (1) an offer to negotiate a settlement agreement conditional upon worker also entering into an agreement that includes no-rehire provision and (2) an offer for settlement agreement conditional upon a worker also entering into an agreement that includes a no-rehire provision unless:
(a) the worker first confirms in writing they are willing to enter into an agreement that includes a no-rehire provision, and the offer affirmatively states that entering into the settlement agreement is conditional upon the worker also entering into an agreement that includes a no-rehire provision; or
(b) the offer affirmatively states that the offer is not conditional upon the worker entering into an agreement that includes a no-rehire provision.
This bill is currently awaiting the governor’s signature and will take effect once signed. It will apply to all settlement agreements entered into on or after the effective date. The bill defines “no-rehire provision” as any provision in an agreement barring a worker from seeking further employment, reemployment or reinstatement with an employer. The term “settlement agreement” includes any settlement agreement disposing of all or part of a worker’s claim for workers’ compensation under ORS chapter 656.The law applies to workers who have applied for benefits or invoked or utilized the procedures provided for in ORS chapter 656, not just those who have an accepted claim. Violators may be subject to civil penalties up to $5,000 in addition to damages available under ORS 659A.885 (1) to (3).
SB 907 bars employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees who refuse to do work that would expose them to serious hazards, provided the employee acted “in good faith and with no reasonable alternative.” This bill has been signed into law and goes into effect January 1, 2024. It mirrors federal law already in effect and requires the Director of Consumer and Business Services to adopt rules in accordance with federal OSHA.
SB 851 requires the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) to prepare a model respectful workplace policy that employers may adopt. It also requires BOLI to create and make available to employers informational materials identifying harms to employees and employers caused by workplace bullying. This bill has been signed into law and goes into effect January 1, 2024.
HB 2649 makes changes to Oregon apprenticeship requirements in public works contracts. This bill is currently awaiting the governor’s signature and will take effect September 24, 2023. Specifically, this bill changes Oregon’s apprenticeship requirements in public works contracts by increasing the percentage of apprenticeship hours from 12 to 15 by 2027. It also expands the types of public works contracts to which that requirement is applied, adding ODOT projects and every higher education project. It also penalizes contractors that fail to meet the requirement even if they tried to comply in good faith.
To-Do’s for Oregon Employers:
Revise OFLA policies. Update definition of “family member”; specify that OFLA and Paid Leave Oregon must run concurrently when the leave qualifies under both laws; consider whether you would like to change your benefit period to match the period in Paid Leave Oregon which requires 60 days’ notice to employees prior to implementation.
Familiarize yourself with the requirements of HB 3471 if you are negotiating settlement of workers’ compensation claims.
Ensure management is properly trained regarding the prohibitions on retaliation and discrimination against employees/prospective employees who refuse hazardous working conditions.
If you would like to adopt a respectful workplace policy, keep an eye out for BOLI’s model policy and consider including it in your employment handbook.
If you are a public works contractor, take note of the increased apprenticeship requirements and new types of contracts to which the apprenticeship requirements apply.
If you have any questions regarding these new laws or would like assistance updating your workplace policies, you can contact me at or 503-595-6112.