OBI and its partners have worked with legislative leaders this session to take initial steps to better align the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) with the state’s paid family and medical leave insurance program, Paid Leave Oregon (PLO). OFLA allows people who work for companies with at least 25 employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for qualifying reasons. Beginning Sept. 3, PLO, an insurance program, will allow people who work for companies of any size to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year for qualifying reasons. Without legislative changes, it will be difficult for employers to juggle the administration of these programs, which differ in important ways that include, among other things, their plan years, definitions, qualifying conditions and job protections.

Negotiations have produced a bill, SB 999, that would make some changes to both programs. Following an amendment adopted April 18, the bill is expected to pass both legislative chambers intact. Below are notable changes employers should know about, as most of them become effective Sept. 3:

Concurrence: PLO statutes stipulate that available leave under both PLO and OFLA is drawn down concurrently if people use it for purposes allowed under both programs. Such reciprocity does not exist under OFLA, however, creating the possibility of leave stacking. The amended SB 999 creates such reciprocity, ensuring that leave taken for purposes allowed under both programs is counted concurrently.

Benefit Year: The PLO benefit year, defined by Oregon Employment Department rule, begins the Sunday prior to the day on which an employee first takes leave. Currently, OFLA provides four options employers may use to set a benefit year. The amended SB 999 replaces OFLA’s four options with PLO’s definition of benefit year so that they align. Employers may use the new OFLA definition as soon as the law becomes effective but must transition to this new definition for OFLA not later than July 1, 2024.

Definition of Family: PLO uses a more expansive definition of family than OFLA. The amended SB 999 expands the definition of family in OFLA to that used in PLO so that they align. Because the definition of family used in Oregon’s sick time law is tied to OFLA definitions, the change would affect sick time usage as well. The expanded definition would add the following to OFLA’s definition of family: relationship by blood or affinity; siblings and stepsiblings and the spouse or domestic partner thereof; and the spouse or domestic partner of a child, stepchild, grandparent or grandchild.

Also, because affinity can be interpreted broadly, the bill directs both programs to establish clarifying factors. In doing so, the programs will use agreed-upon factors modeled after Colorado’s family and medical leave insurance program.

Job Protections: Both OFLA and PLO require employers with 25 or more employees to offer equivalent positions to employees returning from leave if their original jobs are no longer available at the same work site. OFLA requires employers to offer equivalent positions at a site within 20 miles of the original site. The amended bill would increase this range to 50 miles, stipulate that the offer must be for the nearest job within that range if multiple jobs exist and clarify that the offer would be dependent on a job being available. The bill would copy this language into PLO for employers with at least 25 workers so that the laws align.

Unpaid Contributions: Employers are required to continue benefits while employees are on leave. Sometimes, employees on leave are unable to make their contributions to such benefits, and their employers cover those contributions. OFLA explicitly allows employers to recover such contributions within stipulated parameters. PLO is silent on this. Thus, while rules were adopted governing how such contributions could be recovered under PLO, the adopted rule — unlike in OFLA — requires permission from employees. The amended bill would align the programs by copying OFLA language into PLO explicitly granting employers this authority.

Agency Jurisdiction over Complaints: State law governing unlawful employment practices relating to PLO gives employees the right to bring civil actions or complaints with the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). Additionally, state law outlines an appeals process administered by the Oregon Employment Department (OED) available to employers and employees. The amended bill provides that the civil action and complaint process involving BOLI would not be apply if a remedy existed under the OED appeals process.

The passage of this bill would represent an important step in better aligning these two programs. But plenty of work remains, and comprehensive alignment will best serve both workers and employers. Even with the passage of SB 999, the programs would contain different thresholds for employee tenure to qualify for benefits and job protections. Different agencies would still have roles in administration, appeals and enforcement. And leave would continue to be unpaid under one program and paid under another. OBI will continue to work toward complete alignment following the bill’s passage.


Paid Leave Oregon refers to the paid family and medical leave insurance (PFMLI) program the Oregon Legislature adopted in 2019 through House Bill 2005. Such programs are fairly new. Oregon is only the eighth state to adopt a PFMLI program, and programs vary significantly from state to state. Paid Leave Oregon has taken longer than expected to implement, but it will become operational later this year.

The program will provide paid time for family, medical and other reasons. These include the care of a newborn or adopted child, recovery time following serious illness or injury, and leave for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment or stalking. The program will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year.

The program will be funded by a tax on wages. The initial rate is 1%, of which employees pay 60%. Employers with at least 25 employees pay the remaining 40%. Smaller employers are not required to contribute, though they must collect and submit employee contributions. 

Most employees seeking paid leave will apply to the state, which will administer Paid Leave Oregon. However, employers that don’t want to participate in the state program may provide equivalent plans offered by insurance companies. 

On Jan. 1, employers and employees began to pay into the program. And on Sept. 3, employees can start applying for benefits.


Are You Ready for Paid Leave Oregon?

Equivalent Plans overview webinar:


Paid Leave Oregon overview webinar 1:


Paid Leave Oregon overview webinar 2:



State-Provided Employer Resources

  • An employer resources page that features important dates, program requirements, helpful videos, an employer toolkit and more. 
  • A model poster. All employers must hang this poster at every worksite and provide a copy to remote workers. Download it here.
  • Program updates. Sign up for paid Leave Oregon updates by following this link.


  • A program overview video can be found here.
  • A contributions video can be found here.
  • A benefits video can be found here.
  • An equivalent plans video can be found here.
  • A small employer video can be found here.
  • A video for self-employed people can be found here.

Fact Sheets

  • A program overview fact sheet can be found here.
  • A contributions fact sheet can be found here.
  • A benefits fact sheet can be found here.
  • An equivalent plans fact sheet can be found here.
  • An equivalent plan checklist can be found here.
  • A small-employers fact sheet can be found here.
  • A self-employed coverage fact sheet can be found here.