By Megan Holstein Senior Counsel, Compliance and Employment Law
Last week, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) issued final regulations making a variety of changes to the leave laws BOLI enforces. If you’re an employer with workers in Oregon, read on – we’ve summarized the changes, which are retroactively effective as of January 1, 2014. If what happens in Oregon isn’t going to affect your business, you can bail out now and read something else.
Revisions to OFLA regulations: The final regulations implemented the statutory changes to the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) that added bereavement as a leave reason under the act. Relevant changes to the OFLA regulations include:
- The death of a family member has been added as a leave reason, consistent with the statutory revision, in order to:
- Up to 2 weeks of leave is available for each family member death within any 1-year period, even if the deaths occur simultaneously.
- attend a funeral or other service;
- make arrangements related to the death; and/or
- Leave taken under the bereavement leave reason counts toward the employee’s 12-week OFLA entitlement.
- The total leave taken for all reasons including bereavement may not exceed the total period of 12 weeks of leave per leave year available under OFLA.
- Bereavement leave must be taken within 60 days of the date the employee is notified of the death.
- The final regulations describe provisions of taking bereavement leave when two or more eligible employees work for the same employer.
- An employer may not request medical verification for bereavement leave.
Other revisions to OFLA regulations
- A definition of spouse has been added to the OFLA regulations and includes individuals in same sex marriages that were validly performed in other states. Previously, the regulations did not define a spouse.
- The definition of a health care provider has been expanded to include a licensed physician’s assistant.
- The regulations clarify that a female employee who needs OFLA leave for a pregnancy or childbirth- related conditions can take this leave either before or after taking other types of OFLA leave. The employee need not exhaust either type of OFLA leave in order to use the other. If an employee takes OFLA leave for pregnancy-related reason, the employer may not check the employee’s OFLA eligibility each time she takes OFLA leave for any other reason in the same leave year, regardless of the order in which she takes the various OFLA leaves. For example, if an employee takes 4 weeks of OFLA leave to care for a parent with a serious health condition and then becomes pregnant with complications, an employer cannot recheck the employee’s eligibility for her leave request regarding her pregnancy condition.
- The regulations clarify that when parental leave is used to effectuate an adoption or foster placement, it need not be taken in one, uninterrupted period, as required for parental leave after the birth of a biological child.
Revisions to OMFLA and OVCCLA regulations: BOLI also revised the regulations for Oregon Military Family Leave (OMFLA) and the Oregon Victims of Certain Crimes Leave Act (OVCCLA), which provides leave for employees who are victims or whose child may be a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking, or harassment.
- The following revisions are relevant to OMFLA:
- A new definition of spouse, which includes individuals in same sex marriages validly performed in other states. Previously the regulation did not define a spouse.
- The following revisions are relevant to OVCCLA:
- Removal of the hours worked requirement to become an eligible employee under OVCCLA (OVCCLA previously required that an employee work an average of more than 25 hours per week for 180 days).
A new definition of spouse, which includes individuals in same sex marriages validly performed in other states. Previously the regulation did not define a spouse. But, the definition of a spouse is not relevant to the parts of OVCCLA that deal with leaves of absence and so do not require a change in our processes.