With so many sweeping changes to Oregon employment laws taking effect in 2016, one minor but important change to OFLA has the potential to be overlooked. Until this year, employers were free to cease providing employment benefits if an employee was on leave and, therefore, was not eligible for continued benefits. The passage of HB 2600, which was signed into law on July 1, 2015, and effective January 1, 2016, removes that option. Under the bill's amendments to ORS 659A.171, if an employer provides group health insurance, the employee is entitled to continuation of that insurance coverage during the period of OFLA leave as if the employee had continued to work. The same goes for family members of the employee - if they receive health insurance coverage from the employer, that coverage must continue during the period of leave. The employee must continue to make any regular contributions to the cost of health insurance premiums during the leave, but if the employer pays the employee's share during the period of leave, the employer is entitled to deduct the advanced cost from the employee's pay upon the employee's return to work, subject to a ten percent maximum of the employee's gross pay in each pay period.
Review benefits policies to ensure the language complies with the new law.
Ensure that health insurance is not discontinued during employee's medical leave.
Consult an attorney if employee on leave does not pay employee's share of premiums.
This client update is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this update, or for more information about this topic, please contact any of the attorneys in our Labor & Employment group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.