BOLI Passes Permanent Rules Relating to OFLA Sick Child Leave During Public Health Emergency
In March 2020, Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) temporarily expanded Oregon Family Leave Act leave to extend protected leave to include employee leave related to their child’s school or childcare closure. In March 2021, BOLI made the temporary rules permanent.
OFLA, in general provides, protected leave to employees who need to take leave for their own or their family member’s serious health condition. OFLA applies to employer’s employing at least 25 employees. For an employee to qualify for general OFLA leave, they must have worked at least 25 hours per week during the 180 days immediately preceding the date the OFLA leave begins. Assuming the employee meets the qualifications of OFLA leave, they may take up to 12 weeks of protected leave.
A special subsect of OFLA is sick child leave. A qualifying employee may take leave to care for the employee’s child suffering from an illness, injury, or condition that requires home care but is not a serious health condition. The March 2020 temporary rules and now permanent rules expanded sick child leave to include absences to care for the child whose school or child care provider has been closed in conjunction with a statewide public health emergency declared by a public health official. Sick child leave grants an employee an additional 12 weeks of OFLA leave–or potentially a total of 24 weeks per year. Typically, under OFLA, an employer may request verification of the serious health condition from a physician. However, under sick child leave, an employer may only request medical verification of the need for sick child leave after the employee’s third occurrence of sick child leave in the same OFLA leave year. However, an employer may not request medical verification of the need for sick child leave if the leave is due to the closure of the child’s school. Instead, the employer may request verification of the need for sick child leave by asking for the name of the child, the name of the school or child care provider that has closed or is unavailable, and a statement from the employee that no other family member of the child is willing and able to care for the child.
While the changes to the sick child leave rules are now permanent–many employers likely dealt with these issues more significantly in the Spring of 2020. The Sick Child Leave permanent rules apply in limited public health emergencies. As more Oregonians become vaccinated against COVID-19, schools and daycares are reopening. Therefore, while some employers may continue to see requests for leave related to child care issues, it’s likely these requests will continue to diminish. I know I am not alone in hoping that COVID-19 is the only life-changing pandemic employers and employees have to deal with–and the permanent sick child leave rules are applied in limited circumstances in the future due to a lack of public health emergencies.
If you have any questions regarding implementation of your OFLA program or Sick Child Leave, please do not hesitate to contact me at 503-595-6107 or .