On March 21, 2024, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed into law Senate Bill 1515, amending the Oregon Family Leave Act (“OFLA”) and the Paid Leave Oregon program (“PLO”). The bill is intended to better align the OFLA and PLO.  This alert highlights the most significant OFLA and PLO changes, which will take effect July 1, 2024.

The law makes significant changes to OFLA.  Before SB 1515, several types of leave – including parental leave and leave for the serious health condition of an employee or the employee’s family member – were covered by OFLA, PLO, and the federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). This allowed employees to potentially “stack” their leaves by exhausting OFLA and/or FMLA leave and then taking leave under PLO for the same purpose.  SB 1515 addresses some but not all of these stacking issues and creates new questions for employers.

Rather than simply repealing OFLA entirely or prohibiting employees from “stacking” their leaves, SB 1515 amends OFLA to significantly decrease the overlap with PLO.  Under the revised law, OFLA now only covers leave for one of the following:

  1. To care for a child of the employee who is suffering from an illness, injury, or condition that requires home care regardless of whether the child has a serious health condition, or who requires home care due to the closure of the child’s school or child care provider as a result of a public health emergency.
  2. To deal with the death of a family member by: (A) attending the funeral or alternative to a funeral of the family member; (B) making arrangements necessitated by the death of the family member; or (C) grieving the death of the family member. (Note that bereavement leave is limited to two weeks per incident, and bereavement leave cannot exceed four weeks within any one-year period.)
  3. For pregnancy-related disability leave.

Employers with 50 or more employees should note that FMLA leave criteria have not changed.  Employees may still be able to stack FMLA and PLO time. 

Other key changes in the new law include:

  • Employees taking PLO are now entitled to use accrued paid time off (e.g., vacation/sick time) to “top up” their pay to 100% of their regular compensation while on PLO.  (Previously, employers had discretion about whether to allow this.)  Employers have the option of whether to allow employees to go beyond 100% of their regular pay. 
  • 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.  This will be a relief to employers who are trying to “top up” employee pay while the employee is on PLO.
  • The new law addresses a conflict with Oregon’s predictive scheduling law, which applies to large employers in the retail, grocery, and hospitality industries, and which generally requires these  employers  to set employee schedules 14 days in advance. The bill clarifies that employers will not be subject to a penalty if an employee’s schedule must be changed to accommodate another employee’s taking of or return from leave, if the employee fails to give 14 days’ advance notice of the need for leave, or if the employee returns without giving 14 days’ advance notice.

The new OFLA and PLO rules go into effect July 1, 2024.  Between now and then, employers who are subject to OFLA (i.e., those with 25+ employees in Oregon) should consider updating their leave policies to track the new law. 

Please contact your attorney if you have questions about how this development impacts your business.