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Oregon Family Leave Act

If your employer has 25 or more employees, you could qualify for protected leave under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA). That means you are allowed by law to take protected time off to take care of yourself or family members.

All Oregon workers get sick time, but those who work for larger employers can qualify for protected leave under OFLA or the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

OFLA leave gives you job protection, but OFLA is unpaid unless you have vacation, sick, or other paid leave.

Paid family leave has also come to Oregon!  The Paid Leave Oregon program provides most Oregon employees with paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, a serious illness (your own or that of a family member) or if you experience sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, bias, or stalking.

Paid Leave Oregon and OFLA can overlap, but Paid Leave Oregon doesn’t cover bereavement, sick child leave or military family leave and it does not cover leave for less than a full day, so read on to make sure you understand your rights under OFLA.

Major changes to OFLA take effect beginning July 1, 2024

Under 2023 legislation, all Oregon employers need to adopt a measured forward leave year. In addition, SB 1515 (2024) makes the following changes:

  • OFLA will no longer run together with Paid Leave Oregon. Eligible employees may draw on either OFLA or Paid Leave Oregon (but not both) for qualifying events.
  • The list of OFLA qualifying events gets much shorter. OFLA will cover:
    • Home care for the employee’s child (both serious and non-serious health conditions) as well as school and childcare closures for public health emergencies
    • Bereavement
    • Pregnancy disability
    • (Military family leave — up to 14 days per deployment — will continue to count against available OFLA.)
    • From July 1, 2024 through December 31, 2024, OFLA will also provide up to two additional weeks of leave to facilitate the legal processes required for placement of a foster child or adoption. (Paid Leave will incorporate this leave beginning 2025.)
  • OFLA leave is capped at 12 weeks for home care of the employee’s child and bereavement. Bereavement leave is further limited to two weeks per family member with a maximum of four weeks in a given leave year.
  • OFLA provides up to 12 additional weeks for pregnancy disability.
  • OFLA will no longer contain special provisions regarding teachers taking leave near the end of term.
  • OFLA will no longer provide additional sick child leave for employees who take 12 weeks of parental leave.

Employers need to notify employees with OFLA leave approved for July 1 or later if OFLA will no longer cover their absence.

Under OAR 839-009-0201, Oregon employers must notify employees (in writing and in the language the employer typically uses to communicate with them) if OFLA will not apply to a leave previously approved for use on July 1st and forward. Employers must also inform them of their ability to apply for benefits with Paid Leave Oregon (or the administrator of the employer’s equivalent plan). Notice should go out as soon as practicable and no later than June 1st.

Employers must also provide information about the changes to OFLA to any employee who requests leave that OFLA will not cover as of July 1st. Notice should be provided as soon as practicable, as long as it is within 14 calendar days of the request.

Notice under the rule does not require specific language.

An employer might provide notice similar to this:

Under recent legislative changes, leaves which are not for bereavement, pregnancy disability or to care for your child’s illness, injury or a condition that requires home care, will no longer be protected by the Oregon Family Leave Act beginning July 1, 2024. Other laws may well provide you with protected leave. Please see the attached notice on Paid Leave Oregon and feel free to connect with HR to explore your options….

Of course, the notice also needs to come with the information on Paid Leave Oregon (a copy of the poster would suffice for employers who utilize Paid Leave Oregon).

OFLA leave entitlements

(Through June 30, 2024) 

OFLA generally provides up to 12 weeks of protected time off per year for any of these reasons.

  • Parental leave — a parent can take time off for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. (Parents who use 12 weeks of OFLA as parental leave may take up to 12 more weeks for sick child leave.)
  • Serious health condition leave — available for your own serious health condition, or to care for a family member.
  • Pregnancy disability leave — before or after birth of child or for prenatal care. OFLA provides up to 12 weeks of pregnancy disability leave in addition to 12 weeks for any reason listed here.
  • Sick child leave — for your child with an illness or injury that requires home care but is not a serious health condition. You may also take OFLA protected time if your child's school or childcare provider is closed due to a public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic school closures.
  • Military family leave — up to 14 days if your spouse or domestic partner is a service member who has been called to active duty or is on leave from active duty.
  • Bereavement leave — up to 2 weeks of leave after the death of a family member.

Note: that Paid Leave Oregon and OFLA are designed to run together for leave taken under both laws. Once an employee takes Paid Leave, the law also limits the total amount of leave available for that benefit year to 16 weeks (up to 12 of which may be taken as Paid Leave). Employees may also take an additional two weeks of Paid Leave for pregnancy disability, bringing the total leave available for that benefit year up to 18 weeks.

The definition of a family member under OFLA has expanded effective September 3, 2023. Under SB 999 (2023), a family member includes:

  • A spouse or domestic partner;
  • A child of a covered individual or the child's spouse or domestic partner;
  • A parent of a covered individual or the parent's spouse or domestic partner;
  • A sibling or stepsibling of a covered individual or the sibling's or stepsibling's spouse or domestic partner;
  • A grandparent of a covered individual or the grandparent's spouse or domestic partner;
  • A grandchild of a covered individual or the grandchild's spouse or domestic partner;
  • Any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with a covered individual is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Note: that for purposes of parental leave and sick child leave, the child must be either under the age of 18 or an adult dependent child substantially limited by a physical or mental impairment.

OFLA job protections

While on OFLA leave, your employer must offer the same health insurance benefits as when you are working. When you come back, you must be returned to your former job or a similar position if your old job no longer exists.

OFLA eligibility

To be eligible, your employer must have at least 25 employees. In addition, you must have worked an average of 25 hours per week for 180 days - just 180 days with no minimum number of hours worked for parental leave. Computations on the average hours per week should include actual hour worked and hours on protected leave, including OFLA leave.

OFLA eligible employees who terminate or are removed from the schedule but return to service within 180 days remain eligible for OFLA leave on their return. Also, credit for days of employment prior to a break in service must be restored when the employee is reemployed/returned to service within 180 days.

During a public health emergency, employees may become eligible for OFLA with just 30 days of employment (rather than 180) if they have worked an average of 25 hours a week in the 30 days before taking leave. This path to eligibility requires the average of 25 hours worked even for parental leave.

The law

ORS 659A.150 - 659A.186

OAR 839-009-0200 - 839-009-0320

Proposed rules updating both Oregon sick leave and the Oregon Family and Medical Leave Act (OFLA) became final March 2, 2024. The full notice (showing changes) is available on our website. The final rules (as amended) are available online for both sick leave and OFLA. Changes included some cleanup of language already in statute and reorganization, but substantive changes included:

  • Employers need to update their OFLA leave year by July 1 to a “measured forward” method;
  • A covered employer has an obligation (independent of a Paid Leave Oregon claim) to determine whether OFLA leave applies to qualifying leave events;
  • New rules define “affinity” and include language employers may use for an attestation of family member relationship by affinity.

A temporary rule, OAR 839-009-0201 was issued May 8, 2024 and requires employers to notify employees with OFLA leave approved for July 1 or later if OFLA will no longer cover their absence.

Additional Notice of Proposed rules was made May 8, 2024 The full notice (showing changes) is available on our website.

If you think your employer is violating this law, you can make an employment discrimination complaint or contact us at boli_help@boli.oregon.gov.

Frequently asked questions

(Applicable through June 30, 2024)

What does protected leave mean?

It means that you can take time off from work for certain reasons without having to worry about losing your job or being demoted. OFLA gives you the ability to take time off to care for yourself or your family for a certain amount of time. Your employer must return you to your job when you return from leave.

Are there other laws that provide protected family leave?

Yes! In addition to OFLA, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of family leave for many of the same events as OFLA. Though FMLA does not cover sick child leave or bereavement, FMLA also provides military caregiver leave and leave for a “qualifying exigency” arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty.” For details see US DOL’s factsheet.

The Oregon Military Family Leave Act (OMFLA) provides up to 14 days of protected leave per deployment to an employee who is the spouse or domestic partner of a service member (of the US Armed Forces, the National Guard or US military reserve forces) who has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty or who has been deployed. OMFLA leave counts against an employee’s OFLA entitlement, but it remains available even if all OFLA leave has been exhausted. (Note that OMFLA eligibility requires employees work an average of just 20 hours per week rather than 25 with no minimum length of employment so an employee who is not eligible for OFLA leave may still be eligible for OMFLA leave.

The Oregon sick leave law allows all employees to earn and use up to at least 40 hours of protected time to take care of themself or a family member who is sick, injured, experiencing mental illness, or needs to visit the doctor, among other qualifying reasons, including all OFLA-qualifying reasons. Employers with 10 or more employees (6 or more if they have a location in Portland) must provide sick time with pay. Employers that do not frontload at least 40 hours each year must allow accrual of at least 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Of course, the most recent leave law created Paid Leave Oregon. The Paid Leave Oregon program provides most Oregon employees with paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, a serious illness (your own or that of a family member) or if you experience sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, or stalking.

How many weeks of Paid Leave and OFLA leave can I take?

A person who takes Paid Leave is allowed up to 16 weeks of total leave during the Paid Leave benefit year. (A benefit year under Paid Leave is generally 52 weeks beginning the Sunday before an employee takes Paid Leave.) This is a combination of Paid Leave and unpaid OFLA leave. The amount of Paid Leave generally cannot exceed 12 of those weeks. However, an individual may also take two additional weeks of Paid Leave for limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition. In that scenario, the combined amount of leave cannot exceed 18 weeks, with no more than 14 weeks taken as Paid Leave.

Does OFLA leave taken before the start of Paid Leave on Sept. 3, 2023, limit the amount of Paid Leave I can take?

No, OFLA leave taken before the start of Paid Leave would not reduce the total amount of leave during your Paid Leave benefit year.

If I take OFLA leave that is not covered by Paid Leave (bereavement or sick child), is the leave included in the total amount of leave I can take under both OFLA and Paid Leave?

It depends. The combined maximum amount of leave that you can take under Paid Leave and OFLA is based on the Paid Leave benefit year, which starts when Paid Leave is taken. If your Paid Leave benefit year did not begin because you did not take leave that qualified for Paid Leave, then any OFLA leave you take for a purpose that does not qualify for Paid Leave benefits would be subject to established OFLA limits only. If your Paid Leave benefit year began because you took approved Paid Leave, then any OFLA leave taken in that year may be counted against the combined amount of available leave.

Is all leave taken under OFLA subject to the 16–18-week limit if it is taken during the Paid Leave benefit year?

In general, yes – OFLA leave for bereavement and sick child leave are subject to the cap during a Paid Leave benefit year even though they are not covered by Paid Leave. Note that there is an exception for leave taken under the Oregon Military Family Leave Act – although it counts against OFLA, it is not subject to the 16-18 week limits even if a Paid Leave benefit year has begun.

What kind of notice is required?

Employers may generally require employees to give written notice of the need for leave up to 30 days in advance. However, if the need for leave is unforeseen or an emergency, notice may be required as soon as it is practicable and not later than 24 hours after beginning leave. Employers may also require written notice within three days of the employee's return to work.

Note that Paid Leave requires written notice within three days of starting leave.

Note that Oregon's sick time law also provides leave for all OFLA-qualifying absences, including sick child leave for an employee with a child whose school or place of care is closed by order of a public official. Under sick time regulations, employers may only require up to ten days' advance notice to use sick leave if the leave is foreseeable, otherwise, as much notice as is practicable.

Must the employer tell the employee that time off is being designated as family leave?

Yes. Once an employer becomes aware of the need for leave, OFLA allows employers to request information to determine if it is qualifying leave (except for parental leave) and requires a notice of eligibility and qualification within 5 days of receipt of that information. No specific format for this notice is required — a letter will suffice notifying the employee whether they are eligible and whether the condition qualifies. This notice is not required for sick child leave or bereavement leave.

FMLA requires employers to notify employees in writing of their eligibility to take family leave within 5 business days of a request for leave or learning that leave may be for a qualifying purpose. FMLA also requires a notice of rights and responsibilities to be sent along with the notice of eligibility. When the employer has enough information to determine whether the leave will qualify under FMLA, the employer must notify the employee in writing within 5 business days that it is designating the leave as FMLA leave. The United States Department of Labor provides employers with forms for these purposes. Call 503-326-3057 for more information.

If I am covered by multiple leave laws, which law applies?
In order to comply with two (or more) leave laws, best practice would be for employers to apply the law that is most beneficial to the employee.

Example: Paid Leave Oregon and OFLA would allow an employee to take leave to care for a parent-in-law with a serious health condition under their definitions of family members — FMLA would not. Employers covered by all three of these laws must provide leave for employees who wish to care for their parents-in-law under Paid Leave and OFLA. That said, because this kind of leave is not covered by FMLA, the employer cannot count it against the employee’s FMLA entitlement, and the returning employee would still have up to an additional 12 weeks of FMLA leave.

Can an absence due to a Workers’ Compensation claim also be counted as family leave?

Not under OFLA, unless the employee refuses a suitable offer of light duty or modified employment. Where FMLA applies and the absence qualifies as a serious health condition, the employee’s FMLA entitlement will be reduced by the workers’ compensation absence, but their OFLA entitlement will remain intact unless the employee refuses a light duty position. and the absence qualifies as a serious health condition, the answer is yes under FMLA.

Note that Paid Leave Oregon benefits also do not apply in any week in which an employee is eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

If an employer grants family leave for a condition that is also a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (as amended) and Oregon disability law, is there any further accommodation required once the leave period has ended?

Very likely. Employers must reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability if it does not create an undue hardship. If an employee’s family leave entitlement has been exhausted for a serious health condition that is also a disability, or if the employee returns from intermittent leave, the reasonable accommodation obligation remains. An example would be an employee who suffered permanent injuries to their back and, although able to return to work, needed special office furniture or equipment to allow them to perform the job after returning from family leave. Additional unpaid leave or an adjusted work schedule to accommodate therapy treatments may also be reasonable accommodations under the disability laws. The employer will be required to engage in a meaningful interactive process with the returning employee to identify potential accommodations, and they should document those efforts. Check out our disability accommodation toolkit for additional resources.

Editor’s note: State and federal family leave laws are intricate and complex. This information is designed to acquaint the reader with selected general topics and concepts only. Space limitations prohibit detailed treatment and nuance. For those who need a more detailed analysis of the law, we urge you to consider attending our one-day or two-day leave laws seminars or purchase a copy of our Leave Laws handbook.

Helpful documents

Family Leave Tracking Form 

Family Leave Tracking Form (Excel)

Template for Certification of Serious Health Condition

Disclaimer: This website is not intended as legal advice. Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them and the law that was current when the responses were written. They are not intended to apply to any other situations. This communication is not an agency order. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.​