A Leave Manager’s Guide to Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) 

September 18, 2023

In 2019, Oregon’s paid leave law, PLO Paid Leave Oregon, was passed into law. Since then, many employees have been awaiting the program’s kick off. Benefits just became payable on September 3, 2023 and claims are currently being filed.

The aim of this program is to provide workers in Oregon access to up to 12 weeks (14 weeks in some situations related to childbirth) of paid leave to care for loved ones, bond with a new child, manage a serious health condition, and more.

To help employers with team members residing in Oregon, we’ve created this quick reference guide to help you understand what you need to know and how to stay compliant.

Who is eligible for PLO?

Employees who work in Oregon and who made at least $1,000 the year before they apply for PLO may be eligible for benefits.  This includes:

  • Workers who are full time, part time, or who work for more than one employer are included
  • Self-employed individuals or independent contractors are able to “elect” coverage through the PLO program.

Tribal governments are not automatically covered and are not required to participate but can choose to offer coverage. Federal government employees are not eligible for paid leave benefits.

What new protections does PLO grant employees?

Employees can take up to 12 weeks paid leave in a 52-week period (starting from the day leave begins) for family, medical, or safe leave.  If an employee is pregnant, in some situations, they may be able to take up to two more weeks for a total of 14 weeks.

Employees can choose when and how to take the time off.  PLO pays employees a percentage of their wages while they are on leave. PLO protects an employee’s job and role if they have worked for the same employer for at least 90 consecutive days.

Is PLO paid?

Employees can take up to 12 weeks (or 14 weeks for pregnancy-related conditions) of paid leave in a 52-week period (starting from the day their leave begins). Employees can choose when and how to take their leave—a day or week at a time. PLO, not employers, pays employees while they are on leave.

Do employers have to pay for PLO, and if so, how does that work?

All employers must withhold contributions from employees’ wages and submit them on their behalf. Large employers with 25 or more employees are required to pay the employer portion of the PLO contribution.

Small employers with fewer than 25 employees can choose to contribute but are not required to pay into the program. Small employers still need to withhold contributions from their employees’ wages and protect their jobs and positions. This means they do not lose their job title or role while they are on paid leave if the position still exists – even if the position was filled by a temporary replacement employee while they were on leave.

Both employees and large employers make contributions to Paid Leave Oregon. Employers and employees can use this contributions calculator to estimate their contribution. Employers can also choose to pay all or a portion of the employee contribution as an added benefit.

Does PLO interact with other types of leave?

Employees must take leave under Paid Leave Oregon and Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) at the same time, if the employee is eligible and the reason for taking leave qualifies under both policies.

Paid leave benefits are in addition to other types of paid time off, such as sick leave, vacation time, short or long-term disability, or any other kind of paid time off. Employees may stack paid benefits, which may allow them to receive more than 100% of their average weekly pay.

Does PLO offer job protection?

Employers must protect employees’ jobs and roles if they have worked for more than 90 consecutive days and the position still exists upon the employee’s return. An employer must also continue providing the same pre-leave benefits to the employee and is prohibited from retaliation.

What leave options does the PLO provide employees?

Three types of leave options are provided: family, medical, and safe leave.

  1. Family leave includes the birth of a child. It also includes time to bond with a child in the first year after birth, through adoption, or when a child is placed through foster care. It also includes caring for a family member with a serious health condition.
  2. Medical leave includes caring for an individual’s own serious health condition.
  3. Safe leave is for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, or stalking.

What documents can employers ask employees to provide?

An employee can provide one of the following to verify the need for leave:

  • A copy of the child’s birth certificate
  • Hospital admission form
  • Copy of court order or letter from placement agency
  • Proof of a family member’s serious health condition from a health care provider that includes a brief description of the condition and the dates it started and ended

When does an employee need to give notice of their PLO leave?

There are two types of notice an employee may give their employer under PLO.

  • 30-day foreseeable notice
    If the employee knows they will need to use PLO, they are required to let their employer know at least 30 calendar days before starting the leave, unless giving early notice is not possible.
  • 24-hour emergency notice
    In an emergency, an employee must tell their employer (note: this does not have to be in writing) that they need to use PLO within 24 hours of starting the leave. Then, written notice is required within three days of starting the leave. Employers should work to ensure alignment of their absence or leave reporting policies with this law.

How can your HR team ensure they are compliant with PLO?

If you haven’t already, visit paidleave.oregon.gov to check out the employer toolkit, submit premiums, or even direct employees to apply for benefits. Employers should ensure that they are providing information to employees about this benefit and providing the appropriate job and benefits protection throughout the employee’s leave.

AbsenceSoft’s leave and accommodation technology can help your HR team support your Oregon workforce with Paid Leave Oregon benefits — instantly calculating eligibility and tracking usage in one centralized system. Schedule a demo today.