You may have heard about Oregon’s new paid leave program called Paid Leave Oregon, but how does it impact you? This new program started on January 1st of this year but will not begin paying benefits until September 3rd. Take the time to become familiar with this new program to understand how to access the services if needed.
What is Paid Leave Oregon?
This new program provides paid time off for eligible individuals. You will be able to take 12 weeks of leave every 52 weeks. Your leave does not have to happen in one single 12-week period; it can be broken up into smaller increments. If your leave is due to pregnancy, childbirth, or health conditions associated with childbirth, you may be eligible for an additional two weeks (14 total). The paid leave program is broken into three sections: family leave, medical leave, and safe leave.
- Family leave is for people who have experienced the birth of a child or parents who need time to bond with a new child in the first year after birth, adoption, or foster care placement, or for people who need to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- Medical leave is available if you experience a serious medical condition.
- Safe leave provides paid time off from work for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, and/or stalking.
How does Paid Leave Oregon work?
Starting January 1st, 2023, employees and large employers began paying into this new program. The program will be funded by these contributions and allow Oregonians to receive paid leave when they qualify. Small employers with less than 25 employees can choose to contribute, but they do not have to.
The initial fund of money for this program will be collected between January and September of 2023. You will not be able to apply for paid leave during this time. But, starting September 3rd, employees can apply for paid leave if they experience a qualifying event. Ongoing contributions from employees, employers, and anyone else who chooses to enroll will continue to fund the program for the foreseeable future.
How Is Your Contribution Amount Calculated?
The total contribution between you and your employer is 1% of your total gross wages, up to $132,900. Employees pay 60% of the contribution, and large employers (companies with 25 or more employees) pay 40%. The exact amount you will pay is based on your gross wages (this is the amount you make before deductions and taxes). For example, if you make $2,000 per month, your employer will pay $8.00, and you will pay $12.00.
Paid Leave Oregon has a website where you can calculate your contribution based on your income. You can check it out here.
How Much Will You Be Paid If You Need to Take Leave?
The amount each person will be paid while on a qualifying leave will be based on how much money you made during the previous year. This means you may get a portion of your income, or in some cases, you will receive 100% or more of your normal pay. Payments through this new program are made every week.
- Benefit payouts will be different for each person.
- The most you will be paid is 120% of Oregon’s average weekly wage, which is $1,224.82 for 2023. This means the most you can receive in one week is $1,469.78, even if this is below your normal wages.
- The exact amount you will receive will be determined when you apply for benefits through the program. At this time, there is no way to anticipate your exact benefit amount as this is still a new program.
To be eligible to receive payments from Paid Leave Oregon, you must have made $1,000 or more working in Oregon during the year before you apply. It does not matter if you work part-time, full-time, per diem, or for one or more employers.
Some exclusions include self-employed workers, independent contractors, and employees who work for tribal governments. If you fall into one of these categories, you can choose coverage, or your employer can choose coverage, but you are not automatically enrolled. To find out more information about choosing coverage, you can visit this website.
It is also important to note that federal government employees will not be able to access Paid Leave Oregon benefits.
How To Apply for Paid Leave Oregon Benefits
Once September 3rd rolls around, you can apply for benefits if you need them. These are the steps you will need to take:
- Make sure you have the right documents; the necessary documents will depend on which type of leave you are applying for.
- You will need to give notice to your employer. A 30-day written notice is required for planned leave. In case of an emergency, you can give a 24-hour emergency notice which will need to be followed up with a written notice within three days.
- Submit your application through Frances Online. You can create an account starting in August of this year. You must apply within 30 days of the start of your leave.
The new Paid Leave Oregon Program has been created to help provide job protection and ensure Oregonians have access to paid leave when they need it the most. Since this is a new program, we should expect a learning curve and understand they may have to make changes along the way. As with any new program, knowledge is power, so understanding how it impacts you is the best way to prepare. If you have additional questions about how this affects you, I encourage you to reach out to your employer(s) or spend some time on the Paid Leave Oregon website, where you can find additional information.
Brooke is a registered nurse and freelance writer with 10+ years of clinical nursing experience. She graduated from The University of Portland School of Nursing. Brooke grew up in Oregon and spends her free time with her husband and two young children exploring the Pacific Northwest.