Oregon Maternity and Paternity Leave
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Oregon is one of the more progressive states in the country when it comes to maternity leave. Although it is not one of the states offering any maternity leave laws providing pay during maternity leave, you can theoretically receive up to 24 weeks of unpaid, job-protected time off if you qualify (though most women will probably qualify for a maximum of 20 weeks of unpaid time off).
Special Note on Portland, OR City and Multnomah County Employees
Starting in January 2016, Portland city employees of both genders are eligible for six weeks of fully paid time off after the birth, adoption or guardianship of a foster child. In mid 2015, a similar law was passed for Multnomah employees. In both cases, the leave must be taken continuously at some point during the first 12 month’s of the child’s arrival. To be eligible for this leave, employees must have been working for the government for 6 months prior to the leave.
How Much Maternity Leave Do I Get?
Two different laws cover your maternity leave: FMLA (a federal law) and OFLA (the Oregon Family Leave Act).
Under FMLA, parents are entitled to up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid maternity and paternity leave (the law is gender neutral) to care and bond for a newborn or newly adopted child. However, only certain employees are eligible and there are certain criteria you must meet such as having worked for at least 1,250 hours at a company which employs at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your work site (i.e. this does not necessarily mean you have to be a full-time employee).
Under an OFLA you are potentially allowed to take even more time off (up to 24 weeks). Two provisions of OFLA provide for additional time off: (1) Up to 12 weeks of leave under “Pregnancy disability” time off and (2) up to 12 weeks of leave under the Parental leave provisions
What If I Qualify for Both FMLA and OFLA?
Unfortunately it doesn’t mean that you are entitled to 12+12+12 weeks off. First of all, FMLA and OFLA leave run concurrently if you qualify for both. Moreover, typically under the pregnancy disability provisions, you will need a doctor to certify that you are unable to work due to a pregnancy related disability for 12 weeks and most healthy women going through a normal, healthy pregnancy and delivery will not receive that sort of recommendation.
While everyone’s situation is different, in all likelihood, your parental leave under OFLA and FMLA would run concurrently, giving you 12 weeks of parental leave plus any additional time your doctor certifies you are unable to work due to your pregnancy or post-partum recovery needs.
What Is Pregnancy Disability Under OFLA?
Pregnancy disability is considered any time when you are a pregnant employee disabled from your pregnancy, prenatal care or birth of a child and therefore unable to work due to a related health condition. This is medically prescribed time off (e.g. bed-rest under doctor’s orders) or post-partum recovery which is customarily limited to 6-8 weeks after birth depending on whether you delivered vaginally or via C-section. Theoretically, the upper limit on pregnancy disability under OFLA is 12 weeks so if for some reason you needed 6 weeks of bed-rest and then delivered vaginally, you could be entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under this set of OFLA provisions.
How Much Maternity Leave Do I Get Under the Parental Leave Provisions of OFLA?
Parental leave may be taken for up to 12 weeks in addition to pregnancy disability leave in the same leave year. In other words, if you qualify for OFLA, you can use 6-8 weeks of pregnancy disability leave, followed by 12 weeks of parental leave. Parental leave can be used for the adoption of a child or to take care of a child who becomes incapacitated so it is more broadly applicable than just to the birth of a child.
How Do I Apply for OFLA?
To get time off under the pregnancy disability provisions of OFLA, you must receive medical certification and follow the forms your employer provides. You must provide notice to your employer (at least 30 days) where you can though in an emergency situation, you must simply give leave notice to your employer within 24 hours of the emergency.
Do I Qualify for OFLA?
To qualify for OFLA, you must have been employed for 180 calendar days prior to your leave and have worked for at least 25 hours per week on average during this period to qualify for pregnancy disability leave.
However, to qualify for parental leave under OFLA, you simply must have been employed for 180 days prior to your leave regardless of how many hours you worked during that period of time. Your employer must employ at least 25 employees within the state of Oregon.
Do I Get Paid During My Maternity Leave?
Unfortunately, no. Unless your employer voluntarily provides paid maternity leave or offers short-term disability insurance for employees, your leave period will be unpaid. Neither FMLA nor OFLA guarantees any paid time off. You may take out short-term disability insurance benefits to cover your time off if you do so before conception, and follow these tips to manage an unpaid maternity leave.
What About Paternity Leave in Oregon?
FMLA is a gender-neutral law, and Parental Leave under OFLA is something men and women both qualify for. However, pregnancy disability leave only applies to pregnant women.
What Other Rights Do I Have?
Under both FMLA and OFLA, you have the right to be returned to the same or similar position (if your job role has been eliminated while you were on leave) when you return from leave. Under FMLA, you are entitled to continue to receive group health benefits on the same terms as you would have received them if you were not on leave. Under OFLA, you must receive the same benefits as those employees who are absent from work for other reasons (e.g. a sabbatical, paid time off, etc). If those employees would have continued to receive seniority and vacation accrual during their time off, you would also be entitled to those benefits.
What If I Believe My Rights Are Being Violated?
If you find your employer is not aware of your rights or you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination, you can print out this 2016 OFLA poster to show your employer the rules. If that doesn’t resolve your issue, you may make a complaint to the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries Civil Rights Division.
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