April 11, 2024
by Kara Cogswell Kidder

New Oregon Law Amending OFLA & PLO Takes Effect July 1, 2024

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek recently signed new legislation aimed at simplifying Oregon’s leave laws.  Senate Bill 1515 eliminates many types of leave previously covered under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA). The goal is to decrease overlap between the types of leave that qualify for OFLA and Paid Leave Oregon (PLO).

Effective July 1, 2024, OFLA will only cover:

  • Leave for home care of a child due to a health condition (but expanded to include minor illness and injury as well as serious health condition), or because of school/childcare closures in public health emergency
  • Bereavement leave (but with a new maximum of no more than four weeks within any one-year period for this type of leave)
  • Pregnancy disability leave
  • Leave to effectuate the legal process required for placement of a foster child or the adoption of a child (temporary provision from 7/1/24 to 7/1/25 only, as PLO will incorporate this leave beginning 2025)

Under the revised law, where there is overlap between OFLA and PLO, an eligible employee may use either OFLA or PLO to take leave for the qualifying event, but they may not take both types of leave concurrently.  SB1515 additionally permits employers to determine the order in which eligible employees use accrued leave when more than one type of leave is available (subject to any existing agreements with employees or collective bargaining agreements).

While SB15 makes major changes to OFLA, there are also a few significant revisions to PLO.  One is that paid leave is no longer capped at a maximum of 16 weeks in a benefit year (18 weeks if pregnancy disability leave taken). Eligible employees may now take the full amount of leave they are entitled to under OFLA and PLO in a benefit year.

Employees are also now entitled to use accrued paid-time-off (PTO) benefits to “top up” their paid leave benefits, so that the total combined amount received during leave is equal to 100 percent of their wages. Previously, employers were permitted to allow employees to use PTO during paid leave, but they were not required to do so.

Employer may allow employees to exceed their full wages by using PTO in addition paid leave, but they are not required do so – employers may cap the use of PTO benefits while an employee is receiving paid leave so that the total amount received does not exceed 100 percent of wages. So that employers can calculate the capped amount, the new law requires the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) and the Oregon Employment Department (OED) to develop a mechanism to share information with employers about how much pay employees are receiving.

BOLI has announced it plans to release additional guidance and rulemaking for SB1515 as the July 1 effective date approaches. See www.oregon.gov/boli/workers/pages/oregon-family-leave.aspx for updates.

Employers should also ensure their leave policies are updated by July 1, 2024 to reflect the changes to Oregon law.  If you have any questions about these changes, please contact Kara Kidder or another SBH employment attorney at 503-225-5858.