Paid family leave is critical for new parents, whether their family has grown due to the birth of a child, by adoption, or through foster care. Unfortunately, many employers do not pay their employees for the time they take off to bond with a new child, and they are not required to do so. Although there is currently no mandate in Oregon that family leave time must be paid by an employer, a new law goes into effect in 2023 as a result of a bill passed by the state legislature.
In 2019, Oregon became the eighth state to pass this type of law. The state’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program is noted as the most generous paid family leave law in the nation. Notably, legislation is also making its way through Congress which would mandate paid family leave to care for a new child on the federal level — but this law would not supersede state laws that offer more protection.
Family leave is currently protected under the Oregon Family Leave Act if you work for an employer with 25 or more employees. Right now, employees can use vacation, sick leave, or other paid leave that may be available to them. However, as of January 1, 2023, contributions will begin to be made into Oregon’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, with benefits becoming payable the following September.
Under HB 2005, covered employers must provide 12 weeks of family and medical leave with partial wage replacement. An employee may be eligible for paid family and medical leave under the following circumstances:
The law also provides for an additional two weeks of paid leave for complications related to pregnancy or childbirth — and allows for four more weeks of unpaid leave under the family leave law currently in place.
The new law applies to all employers in the state of Oregon who have at least one employee. But in order to be eligible to receive paid family leave benefits, an employee must have received $1,000 or more in wages in the base year.
Significantly, Oregon has a broad definition of “family member” in terms of the law. A family member can include a biological child, adopted child, foster child, spouse, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, and family-like relationships.
Most people are familiar with what maternity leave is. But it’s just as important for new fathers to bond with their children — and it’s essential to be aware that Oregon also offers workplace leave protection to fathers. Critically, paternity leave can have a number of lasting benefits for both parents and the child, including building a strong parent-child relationship.
Unpaid maternity leave and paternity leave are protected under Oregon’s current law. Both types of leave will also be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, allowing mothers and fathers to receive pay for up to 12 weeks of family leave.
Many families in Oregon welcome new children through adoption or foster care. Importantly, the new law doesn’t only cover maternity and paternity leave for the birth of a new child, but it also applies to adoption and foster care. An eligible employee is entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave benefits up to 12 months from the date of the qualifying event.
In addition, the leave time does not have to be used all at once — this can be beneficial for families or single parents who are adopting or caring for a child in the foster care system and require flexibility in helping to ensure their child adjusts to their new home.
Adopting or caring for a foster child is a rewarding experience, and it’s important to be aware of your rights as a new parent. It’s also critical to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process associated with adoption and fostering. Based in Salem, Litowich Law provides families in Oregon with the knowledge, resources, and legal counsel they need. We welcome you to contact us for a consultation.