Oregon Public Health Emergency Triggers Changes to OFLA Eligibility

By Christine M. Zinter
By Bullard Law,

On November 14, 2022, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order No. 22-23, declaring a public health emergency due to an alarming uptick in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza cases. This declaration remains in effect for sixteen weeks, until March 6, 2023, unless it is extended or terminated earlier.

Due to COVID-related amendments to the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) that became effective January 1, 2022, any time there is a declared public health emergency, employees become eligible for OFLA leave for any OFLA-qualifying reason if they were employed for thirty (30) days immediately before the leave begins, and so long as they have worked at least twenty-five (25) hours per week during the thirty days immediately preceding the leave. Normally, employees must work at least 180 days, averaging 25 hours per week during those 180 days, to be OFLA leave eligible.

The 2022 OFLA amendment also expanded the qualifying reasons to include caring for a child “who requires home care due to the closure of the child’s school or child care provider as a result of a public health emergency.” It remains unclear what steps the Oregon Health Authority and the state’s Public Health Director will take to combat this most recent health crisis. However, because younger children are particularly susceptible to RSV, there is a likelihood that childcare centers may be closed in the event of serious, localized outbreak. Employees with dependents impacted by such closures would be eligible for OFLA leave under this declared emergency.

For more information about an employer’s OFLA responsibilities and other employment law matters, please contact the employment law experts at Bullard Law.

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