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Wildfire Resources

Oregon's 2020 historic wildfire season is affecting hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. Find tools and answers for questions you may have about how these wildfires affect workers and employers.

We are here to answer your questions

https://wildfire.oregon.gov/ is Oregon state government's hub for all general wildfire-related resources including county news and alerts, emergency shelter information, and smoke-related information.

Learn more about evacuating wildfires if you are also quarantining or isolating to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If you’re a worker, please call 971-673-0761 or email help@boli.state.or.us

If you’re an employer, please call 971-673-0824 or email bolita@boli.state.or.us

If you’re a member of the press, please call Jenny Smith at 503-805-3853 or email jenny.smith@state.or.us.

Sick time and other paid leave
Oregon law gives all employees sick time – including part time workers. If your employer has 10 or more employees or 6 or more if they have operations in Portland, you get PAID sick time.

You can use sick time for many reasons, including for a public health emergency. That includes the closure of a place of business (or child's school or childcare) by order of a public official. You can also use sick time if you are ill due to the wildfires or air quality.

Other paid time off, such as vacation time, isn’t required by law and is subject to the employer’s policy. However, if a worker has paid time off accured, employers ought to allow employees to access that time during this natural disaster.



Get help if employer is unable to reopen and can't pay workers for hours worked

​If your employer has gone out of business and doesn’t have the resources to pay your wages, you may be able to get some, or all, of what you are owed from Oregon’s Wage Security Fund.

You can learn more and complete a claim form here.​ Due to certain time limits, please file a claim as soon as possible.

You may also qualify for unemployment benefits.


Unemployment benefits

(​​​Please note that the Oregon Employment Department handles these benefits.​)

The quickest way to file a claim for unemployment benefits or get help is to use their online services here: https://unemployment.oregon.gov/

Unemployment benefits are available in a lot of circumstances to help Oregonians who are being laid off or are temporarily out of work.

If you have been laid off or your hours have been cut, you should file your claim with the Oregon Employment Department.

Additional contact information for the Oregon Employment Department:​

Email OED_COVID19_Info@oregon.gov​
Portland Area: (503) 292-2057
Salem Area: (503) 947-1500
Eastern/Central Oregon/Bend: (541) 388-6207
TOLL FREE: (877) 345-3484​

​​

Safety at work

​​Oregon OSHA ​manages and regulates workplace safety concerns.

It is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate workplace hazards, including respiratory hazards.

Oregon OSHA offers consultation services, technical expertise, and other resources to employers who may need help in light of the potential workplace hazards brought on by wildfire season.​

​If employees are worried or believe their concerns have not been addressed, they may file a complaint with Oregon OSHA, which will evaluate it. Complaints may be filed online or by calling the nearest field office.​


Disability accommodations

​E​mployers need to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities or health conditions that can qualify as disabilities. Air quality and wildfire smoke may trigger health conditions like asthma or anxiety that are also disabilities.​

Potential accommodations that employers can make could include allowing employees to work from home or at an alternate location, or take a period of leave.​

Evacuation protocol & COVID-19

Masks, face shields and face coverings are currently required statewide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you or a household member are quarantining or isolating to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please take the following precautions:

• If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately. Follow all instructions from fire officials.

• If you have time, reach out to your local public health authority, who should have already been in contact with you about your isolation/quarantine. They may have solutions to help you continue to isolate/quarantine if you are evacuated.

• Should you be directed to a shelter or other evacuation space, please let officials know you are in isolation/quarantine so that they can take steps to keep you distanced from other evacuees.

• Wear a mask at all times when outside your home, or if you may come into contact with people who do not live with you.

• If you are an older adult or a person with disabilities, reach out to the Aging and Disabilities Resource Connection for information about resources 1-855- ORE-ADRC (1-855-673-2372).

• Practice physical distancing to the greatest extent possible if you must travel outside your home for any reason, including evacuation.

• More information about wildfire safety and your health is available on healthoregon.org/wildfires.

Additional resources can be found by calling 2-1-1



Frequently asked questions

For workers

My employer has called me into work – we’re not in an evacuation zone, but I don’t feel comfortable given the current smoke and air quality due to wildfires.

Your employer has an obligation to maintain a workplace that is free from direct threats to worker health and safety. It is your employer’s responsibility to evaluate workplace hazards, including respiratory hazards. Oregon OSHA offers consultation services, technical expertise, and other resources to employers who may need help in light of the potential workplace hazards brought on by wildfire season. If you are worried or believe your concerns have not been addressed, you may file a complaint with Oregon OSHA, which will evaluate it. Complaints may be filed online or by calling the nearest field office.

Wildfire destroyed my employer’s shop. I need my final wages but they cannot pay them — what can I do?

If your employer has gone out of business and doesn’t have the resources to pay your wages, you may be able to get some, or all, of what you are owed from Oregon’s Wage Security Fund. You can learn more here. You may also qualify for unemployment benefits.

Air quality is a big concern for me because I have asthma – what does my employer need to do?

Air quality may trigger health conditions like asthma that are also disabilities. Under Oregon disability laws, most employer do need to make reasonable accommodation. Your employer should discuss what changes might be made to allow you to continue to work. Potential accommodations could include allowing you to work from home or an alternate location, or take a period of leave.

I had to evacuate my home because of the wildfires - does Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) protect my job?

Evacuating or losing your home is devastating in the extreme. While OFLA was not designed to offer protection because of an evacuation, it may apply in two ways to this natural disaster.

First, you or your family member could suffer a serious health condition as a result. That might include serious health conditions like asthma triggered by smoke inhalation. Alternatively, the current fire, smoke and air quality may endanger a pregnant employee’s health or the health of the fetus, thus, the pregnant employee may need to take OFLA pregnancy disability leave. Employers should carefully consider all requests for leave here, erring on the side of caution.

Second, OFLA provides protected leave for employees to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed on account of a public health emergency. The federal government has recognized Oregon wildfires as such an emergency.

My employer closed the shop because of an order to evacuate – is that paid time?

Paid time off, such as vacation time, isn’t required by law and is subject to your employer’s policy. That said, if you have paid time off available, your employer ought to allow you to access that time in these circumstances. Employees eligible for paid sick time (meaning those employed for 90 days or more by employers with 10 or more employees – 6 with an establishment in Portland) have a right to take any unused paid leave. Sick time is available in the event of a public health emergency, and that includes a closure of the employee’s place of business (or the school or place of care of the employee’s child) by order of a public official. Salaried exempt employees generally need to receive their full salary for any week they perform work. Although part week absences may be covered by drawing down available paid time off under your employer's policy, your employer should not reduce your pay for absences occasioned by the operating requirements of the business. If you are ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available.

For employers

We called employees to work – we’re not in an evacuation zone, but some workers don’t feel comfortable given the current smoke and air quality due to wildfires.

As the employer, you have an obligation to maintain a workplace that is free from direct threats to worker health and safety. It is your responsibility to evaluate workplace hazards, including respiratory hazards.

Oregon OSHA offers consultation services, technical expertise, and other resources to employers who may need help in light of the potential workplace hazards brought on by wildfire season.

Air quality is a big concern for some workers because they have asthma – what are my responsibilities here?

Air quality may trigger health conditions like asthma that are also disabilities. Under Oregon disability laws, most employers need to make reasonable accommodation. You should discuss what changes might be made to allow employees to continue to work. Potential accommodations could include allowing a worker to work from home or an alternate location, or take a period of leave.

My employee had to evacuate their home because of the wildfires - does Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) apply?

Evacuating or losing your home is devastating in the extreme. While OFLA was not designed to offer protection because of an evacuation, it may apply in two ways to this natural disaster.

First, an employee or their family member could suffer a serious health condition as a result. That might include serious health conditions like asthma triggered by smoke inhalation. Alternatively, the current fire, smoke and air quality may endanger a pregnant employee’s health or the health of the fetus, thus, the pregnant employee may need to take OFLA pregnancy disability leave. Employers should carefully consider all requests for leave here, erring on the side of caution.

Second, OFLA provides protected leave for employees to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed on account of a public health emergency. The federal government has recognized Oregon wildfires as such an emergency.

I had to close the shop because of an order to evacuate – is that paid time?

Paid time off, such as vacation time, isn’t required by law and is subject to your own policy. That said, if an employee has paid time off available, you ought to allow them to access that time in these circumstances.

Employees eligible for paid sick time (meaning those employed for 90 days or more by employers with 10 or more employees – 6 with an establishment in Portland) have a right to take any unused paid leave.

Sick time is available in the event of a public health emergency, and that includes a closure of the employee’s place of business (or the school or place of care of the employee’s child) by order of a public official.

Salaried exempt employees generally need to receive their full salary for any week they perform work. Although part week absences may be covered by drawing down available paid time off under the employer's policy, the employer should not reduce a worker's pay for absences occasioned by the operating requirements of the business. If they are ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available.




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