As we continue to count down (less than a year!) until benefits become available under Oregon’s paid family and medical leave (“PFML” or “Paid Leave Oregon”) program, there are some upcoming dates that both employees and employers should note. Implementation of the program was pushed out a year, but we have finally reached a major milestone for the program – employer applications for Equivalent Plans.
Under the Oregon PFML program, an employer Equivalent Plan must provide employees with PFML benefits equal to or greater than those provided by the State program, without the employee needing to apply to the State. Additionally, an employer with an Equivalent Plan will not be required to pay the mandated contributions to the Paid Leave Oregon program. However, to implement and administer an Equivalent Plan, employers will need to submit an application and receive approval from the Oregon Employment Department.
As of September 1, 2022, employers may apply for approval of their employer Equivalent Plan through the new online portal. The online portal can be found here. To submit an application, there is a non-refundable fee of $250. More information and guidance regarding employer Equivalent Plans can be found on the Equivalent Plan webpage here. This webpage provides answers to questions including how to submit an Equivalent Plan application, what qualifies as an Equivalent Plan, and what types of Equivalent Plans may be provided by an employer. The Oregon Employment Department also published an Equivalent Plan Guidebook, which can be found here.
What’s Coming Next for Paid Leave Oregon?
Mark your calendars! The next two big milestones for the Paid Leave Oregon program are the commencement of contributions and the availability of paid leave benefits:
Commencement of Contributions: An employer with twenty-five or more employees, who chooses not to offer an Equivalent Plan or whose plan does not get approved, will be required to remit contributions to the PFML program beginning January 1, 2023. Employers pay 40% and employees pay 60% of the contribution rate, which is 1% of up to $132,900 in wages (per employee) for 2023. However, employers may choose to pay all or a portion of the employee contribution amount as a benefit to employees.
Availability of Benefits: On September 3, 2023, employees can start applying for benefits – do note it is not September 1. Employees may seek benefits to cover lost wages due to the need to take leave for the birth of a new child or to bond with a new child, care for seriously ill or injured family members, recover from their own serious health condition, and/or to take safe leave. The program provides twelve weeks of paid leave per benefit year in any combination of family, medical, and safe leave, and up to two additional weeks of paid leave for pregnancy-related limitations.
What Employers Should Do
Employers should review the program requirements and decide whether they intend to provide benefits through an Equivalent Plan. Both employer-administered and fully-insured Equivalent Plans must be approved by the Oregon Employment Department and meet certain criteria, so employers should begin the application and process for approval now. If an employer decides not to apply for an Equivalent Plan, they should begin preparations for the program’s contribution requirements which start on January 1, 2023.
What ReedGroup is Doing
ReedGroup offers compliant state PFML solutions. We will continue to monitor the development of the Oregon PFML program and adjust our offerings accordingly. If you are looking for assistance managing claims or to ensure compliance across your organization, ReedGroup has solutions for you. Check out our offerings here.
Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.