Oregon’s much anticipated Paid Leave program (formally called Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance) will be here soon. Employee and employer contributions to the state program start January 1, 2023, and employees can start applying for benefits beginning September 3, 2023.

Almost all employers with employees in Oregon are required to participate in the state program, unless they have an approved equivalent plan. The Oregon Employment Department recently released the application form to submit an equivalent plan.

Equivalent plans must be preapproved by the Oregon Employment Department, cannot cost the employee more than what they would pay into the state program, and must provide at least the same benefits to employees as the state program. For example, the plan must:

  • Cover all Oregon employees (including part-time and temporary) who have been continuously employed at least 30 calendar days.
  • Provide up to 12 weeks of paid family, medical, and safe leave per leave year (plus an additional two weeks for pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions), at a rate equal to or greater than that paid by the state program.
  • Allow paid leave to be taken intermittently, one day at a time.
  • Provide job protection rights to employees who have been employed at least 90 days.
  • Cover employee health insurance benefits to the same extent as for employees who are not on leave.

Key dates for employers considering having an equivalent plan include:

  • Now: Equivalent Plan Applications are available here. The state’s Equivalent Plan Guidebook is available here.
  • Now: Employers intending to submit an Equivalent Plan Application but who are not yet ready may submit a Declaration of Intent to Obtain Approval of an Equivalent Plan. An approved Declaration of Intent exempts employers from contributions to the state program. However, if the Equivalent Plan Application is not approved or if the employer fails to submit an Equivalent Plan Application, the employer is responsible for all required contributions, retroactive to January 1, 2023 (plus penalties and interest), and may not collect retroactive contributions from employees.
  • November 30, 2022: Last date for employers to file a Declaration of Intent to avoid contributions beginning on January 1, 2023.
  • January 1, 2023: Employers must start making contributions and collecting employee contributions unless they have an approved equivalent plan or submitted a Declaration of Intent. (Note, however, that employers who have submitted a Declaration of Intent must hold certain contributions in trust until their plan is approved.)
  • May 31, 2023: Equivalent Plan Applications must be completed and submitted to the Oregon Employment Department to meet the approval deadlines for a plan to be effective on September 3, 2023.
  • September 3, 2023: Employees start having access to benefits under the state program.

For more information about Equivalent Plans and Oregon Paid Leave more generally, please join us for a webinar on October 6 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific. Click here to register for the webinar.