By Jordan Jeter
The Oregon Employment Department (OED) has announced the contribution rate for Paid Leave Oregon, the paid family and medical leave program funded through payroll taxes which launches in 2023. Passed in 2019, Paid Leave Oregon will provide workers in Oregon up to 12 weeks of paid leave per benefit year (or up to 14 weeks paid and four unpaid for leave related to pregnancy and childbirth). Benefit payments depend on employee wages compared to the statewide average weekly wage. Paid Leave Oregon will allow workers to take paid time off for several qualifying reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child, serious illness or injury, caring for a seriously ill family member, and for issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or harassment.
Beginning January 1, 2023, workers and employers will collectively contribute one percent of wages into the trust fund, which in turn, will provide the funds for paid leave benefits. Those benefits are slated to begin September 3, 2023. Unless an employer voluntarily pays the employee portion as a benefit, workers will pay 60 percent and employers 40 percent of the contribution rate. For example, if an employee made $1,000 in wages, the employee would pay $6 and the employer $4 toward the paid leave fund. Employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to pay the employer contributions, but, if they choose to pay those contributions, they may apply to receive a grant to offset costs associated with hiring a temporary worker (or other wage-related costs) incurred during the time when an employee is on paid family leave.
In lieu of participating in Paid Leave Oregon, employers may provide equivalent paid leave plans for their employees. Any such plan must provide benefits that are equal to or greater than the benefits offered by the state plan. Employers can submit equivalent plan applications starting in September 2022. In the meantime, OED is conducting a survey to gauge whether employers intend to participate in the state plan, develop their own equivalent plan, or use an existing employer-administered plan. Employers can access the non-binding, informational survey here.
As we get closer to the 2023 start dates for Paid Leave Oregon, we will continue to monitor new rules and guidelines issued by OED. If you have questions about your company’s current policy, or how to make it compliant as an equivalent plan, please consider contacting your employment counsel.
This update is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have questions about the issues raised here, please contact any of the attorneys in our Labor & Employment Practice Group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.