Legislature passes bill to reduce employee leave ‘stacking’

By Oregon Business & Industry

On Feb. 27, the Oregon House passed an OBI-negotiated bill that would better align a pair of overlapping leave laws, the Oregon Family Leave Act and Paid Leave Oregon. Having passed the Senate on Feb. 14, SB 1515 bill will now head to Gov. Tina Kotek, who’s expected to sign it into law.

OFLA, the older of the two programs, provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off annually for parental leave, sick child leave, leave for serious health conditions and for a few other conditions. The Legislature left this program in place in 2019, when it created Paid Leave Oregon, which provides up to 12 weeks of paid time off for parental and medical leave as well as “safe leave” for victims of various crimes.

Because the two programs provide leave under similar circumstances, compliance has been confusing for employers and employees. The programs’ redundancies also have led to leave “stacking,” in which employees exhaust OFLA leave, then then take paid leave for the same purpose. To avoid this sort of complication, most other states that have adopted paid leave laws repealed their unpaid leave laws. Oregon has taken longer to do so.


OBI worked with legislators and allied groups to reduce program redundancies during the 2023 session, leading to the passage of SB 999. However, additional work was needed to align the programs. SB 1515 accomplishes this while addressing other implementation issues. The bill’s highlights include:

  • The bill deletes most leave purposes from OFLA, ensuring that such leave is taken under Paid Leave Oregon and eliminating the possibility of leave “stacking.” OFLA will continue to cover a small number of leave types not addressed by Paid Leave Oregon. These include sick child leave, bereavement leave and leave for pregnancy disability.
  • The bill allows employees to “top off” Paid Leave Oregon benefits by using accrued paid time off to replace 100% of their wages. Because the Oregon Employment Department, which administers Paid Leave Oregon, does not share benefit amounts with employers, a mechanism to share information must be developed when rules for the law are created. Without such information, employers won’t know how much accrued PTO to use.
  • The amended bill addresses a conflict with the state’s scheduling law encountered by some employers. Affected employers are required to set schedules for employees 14 days in advance. This includes employees who fill in for colleagues on protected leave. The change ensures that employers will not be subject to penalty pay if the schedule of an employee must be changed to accommodate the return of a colleague who resumes work without giving at least 14 days’ notice.

OBI policy team members have worked extensively with legislators and other stakeholders to align the two programs since 2019. They played a central role in the development of SB 999 in 2023 and SB 1515 in 2024. OBI will continue to work with agency officials and others to ensure that the program changes initiated by SB 1515 are implemented as intended. And because alignment issues between leave laws continue to remain, OBI already has begun to work on additional changes. If you have suggestions, please contact Derek Sangston at [email protected].

OBI will schedule a webinar following the conclusion of the 2024 session to discuss changes to OFLA and Paid Leave Oregon. Go here to read the full text of SB 1515.

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