Oregon is one of the more progressive states in the country when it comes to caregiver leave and employee rights. 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 foster care guardianship of a 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 months of the child’s arrival. To be eligible for this leave, employees must have been working for the government for six months prior to the leave.
How Much Maternity Leave Do I Get?
Under FMLA, or the Family Medical Leave Act, parents are entitled to up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid maternity and paternity leave (the federal 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 the state-specific Oregon Family Leave Act, however, you are potentially allowed to take even more time off (up to 24 weeks) of unpaid leave. 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 / caregiver 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 during due to your pregnancy or postpartum 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 (so, not extending to adopted or foster care children) 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 postpartum recovery, which is customarily limited to six to eight 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 six 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 six to eight 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 employers 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 employers 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.
How Long is Short Term Disability in Oregon?
Employers are not required to offer paid short-term disability insurance in Oregon, but employees have the option to purchase their own plans through Public Employee Benefits Board (PEBB). This insurance will cover up to ⅔ of your average income while on leave. This leave allows for six weeks of recovery after a vaginal birth, and eight weeks of recovery after a Cesarean section.
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, regardless of marriage or domestic partnership status. However, pregnancy disability leave only applies to pregnant women.
What Other Rights Do I Have?
Under both FMLA and OFLA, your employee rights include the ability 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 employment 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 or wrongful termination, 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.
OFLA doesn’t just apply to parental leave, though. Let’s also look at some of the other protections and eligible employee types included under this law.
Oregon actually became the first state to mandate Bereavement Leave, back in 2013. Under this law, eligible employees may take up to two weeks of unpaid leave per death of a family member, with a maximum of 12 weeks in a 12-month period. This condition was included to allow employees the ability to make the needed arrangements after a family member’s passing, attend the funeral, and grieve. Under OFLA, the definition of “family member” includes an employee’s spouse, domestic partner (regardless of sex), child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild. Similarly, this extends to the same family members of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner. Additional employee eligibility requirements may need to be met — you can read more about those here.
Military family leave
Under FMLA, military caregivers’ leave entitlements are categorized in two sections — Military Caregiver Leave and Qualifying Exigency Leave. To be an eligible employee for the first military family leave category, you must have an active duty family member be deployed to a foreign country. Military Caregiver Leave, on the other hand, impact those who need to provide care to an ill or injured family member who is in the military. To learn more about this area of FMLA coverage, click here.
In Oregon, all employers with at least 10 employees (or six employees, if you live in Portland) must provide up to 40 hours of PTO per year, and employers with less than 10 employees (or less than six if, again, you live in Portland) must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time. In the case that paid sick leave is provided, employees must be paid their normal amount of pay. Employees covered by Oregon’s sick leave law include: both part-time and full-time; salaried; minimum wage; commission; temporary; seasonal; piece-rate; and home care employees. The main qualification is that an employee has worked in the state of Oregon for at least a year. Independent contractors, for whatever reason, are the one form of employment not covered by the state’s sick time laws. This type of leave can also be used to care for a sick child, as well, but if your family member has a more serious health condition, there are laws (like FMLA) that can help you on a more ongoing basis, as well.
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