Oregon Passes Nation

Oregon Passes Nation's Most Generous Paid Leave Family Law

Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a law into effect on July 1 that will provide 12 weeks of paid leave to nearly every employee in the state.

Oregon's Governor Kate Brown has signed into law the nation's most generous paid leave program. The law, which will go into effect the the beginning of 2023, will provide 12 weeks of paid leave to nearly every employee in the state funded by a new payroll tax paid by both workers and employees with 25 or more employees. 

Oregon is the eighth state in the country to pass a family leave law, but this program is by far the most progressive in the nation's history. Not only will the first 12 weeks of paid time off for new parents and those who need to care for an ill family member be covered, but it will also provide paid leave for victims of domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault. Oregon will only be the second state, following New Jersey, to include victims of domestic violence in its paid family leave law.

The second part of the law that makes it unique is that it provides coverage to almost all workers in the state, including part-time workers. The only requirement to be eligible for leave is that the employee has earned at least $1,000 in wages during the previous year. This broad coverage means that essentially, all employers will have some compliance obligations under this new law.

Further, the law defines family broadly to include spouses, domestic partners, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and "any individual related by blood for affinity whose close association with a covered individual is the equivalent of a family relationship."

Additionally, the amount of benefits provided is more than many other states provide. Under Oregon's new law, many workers will receive full wage replacement during their absence. Weekly benefits will be capped at the generous rate of $1,215, which means that many lower-income workers will see no financial impact on their livelihoods if they mis work for qualifying reasons. Higher-income employees will receive a percentage of their ordinary pay.

The law will be funded through a payroll tax that cannot exceed 1 percent of employee wages, up to a maximum of $132,900 in wages, with employees paying 60 percent of the total rate and employers covering 40 percent.   

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