Family Leave Becomes Hot Issue Again for Legislature

By: J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business organization

The Oregon Legislature is poised once again to add to the burdens of Oregon employers who are already grappling with significant changes to family leave laws stemming from the 2007 Legislature and the federal government.  Oregon employers with 25 or more employees are required by law to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees each year to cover such events as a serious illness or the birth of child.

The 2007 Legislature already took great steps to expand Oregon’s family leave laws by passing legislation to exclude time off for a worker’s own workers’ comp leave from counting against their annual family leave entitlement.

Also, the legislature mandated that an employer must pay an employee accrued sick leave for family leave, even if the worker would not normally be eligible for the pay.  Finally, the legislature expanded family leave to include illnesses of grandparents and grandchildren.

In January, the federal government weighed in with substantial new family leave regulations, many of which are in conflict with Oregon laws.

Associated Oregon Industries has been clear in its request that the Oregon Legislature “stand pat” and allow Oregon employers to digest these significant changes without adding to the burden of administering even more changes to Oregon’s family leave laws.  Unfortunately, the request may go unheeded.  AOI is defending against several proposed changes to Oregon law that would add to an employer’s administrative burden.

SB 635 would grant employees an additional 35 hours per year of “school activity leave” to be administered in the same fashion as family leave.  Such leave would require employers to grant leave to employees wishing to attend a child’s school activities.

HB 2821 would prohibit employers from mandating that employees use accrued vacation time while on family leave.  Such a practice is currently allowed under federal law.

AOI is also expecting to see “Paid Family Leave” legislation that would propose to tax employees in order to fund a new program to pay workers for up to six weeks of leave.

AOI is actively opposed to all three of these legislative proposals.  AOI believes that employers deserve the ability to be able to incorporate all the new changes to state and federal law without being saddled with additional administrative burdens.

— More info: Associated Oregon Industries

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