One those issues is paid family medical leave. While family medical leave has been law since the 1900’s, now employees will be able to take time off for pregnancies and serious illnesses in the family. Effective January I, 2023, Oregon employers will be responsible for allowing access to all employees for paid family medical leave. This action was taken by the Oregon Legislature in their 2019 session. Signed by the governor in late June, paid family leave will be available to all in companies with one or more employees. The paid family medical leave program will require an insurance fund to be established, somewhat similar to the workers compensation fund. Administration of paid family medical leave (PFML) will be the responsibility of the Oregon Employment Department. Rulemaking for PFML is required prior to September 1, 2021 and employers will begin collecting premiums January 1, 2022. The cost of this insurance-pool program will be shared 60 percent by employees and 40 percent by employers, with a maximum payroll tax of 1%. Employers with fewer than 25 employees would not be required to contribute to the cost of the premium but could do so if they chose. Their employees would contribute and qualify for leave under the program. PFML will cover pregnancies or a serious illness to the employee or a member of the family. Family is defined as child, spouse or domestic partner, sibling, parent, grandparent or any individual who is related by blood or affinity whose close relationship with the covered individual is the equivalent of family. Family leave is defined as leave to care for a child in the first year after birth or adoption/foster care placement or to care for a family member with a serious medical condition. Family leave does not include military or bereavement leave. Medical leave is defined as leave taken by a covered individual that is necessary to address their own, or family’s, serious health condition. Employees enrolled in the program must be employed for a period of 90 days to be eligible for job protections to kick in. PFML provides all employees with 12 weeks of paid leave, for leave related to the birth, adoption or fostering of a child, leave for serious health conditions of the employee or a family member, and leave needed for a victim of domestic violence. This was a very contentious and controversial piece of legislation. Only four other states offer PFML: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York. After many months of meetings and deliberations, the Chamber Legislative Action Team recommended opposition to PFML. The reason was the unanticipated consequences that could possibly arise for this type of a program. In addition, there were and are several legislative proposals that had many serious consequences for business.
The 2019 Oregon Legislature adjourned on June 29.  In the coming months, we will highlight and explain some of the more critical actions that impact Oregon companies. JWA Public Affairs is hired by the Chamber of Medford/Jackson County to advocate on behalf of Southern Oregon employers.
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JOHN WATT | JWA PUBLIC AFFAIRS | August 2019
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
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