As spring began to blossom in the Pacific Northwest, COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations began to decrease in Oregon. Prompted by the decline in COVID-19 numbers, Oregon’s Governor, Kate Brown, announced that she will rescind her statewide COVID-19 emergency declaration. Governor Brown’s Executive Order 21-36 originally extended the current declaration of a public health emergency through June 30, 2022; however, in February, the Governor declared the public health emergency would end, effective April 1, 2022, more than two years after it was first announced. The declaration of the end to Oregon’s public health emergency also brought an end to COVID-19-era leave benefits granted to Oregonians. Here’s a quick explanation of what changed.
House Bill 2474 (2021)
Introduced in January 2021, and enacted five months later in June 2021, Oregon House Bill 2474 modified Oregon’s current law in multiple ways:
- OFLA Eligibility
Under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), House Bill 2474 directly amended eligibility requirements for those seeking leave under the Act. Under normal circumstances (i.e., during non-public-health-emergency times), an Oregonian must have been employed by his/her employer for at least 180 days, averaging 25+ hours per week, immediately before the start date of family leave to be eligible for OFLA leave.
Under House Bill 2474’s amendments, during a period of time covered by a public health emergency, employees may be eligible for OFLA leave with just 30 days of employment, averaging 25+ hours per week, instead of 180 days.
Now that the Governor has declared the end of the public health emergency, effective April 1, 2022, the days-worked eligibility requirement will revert to the 180-day requirement.
- OFLA Leave Purposes
House Bill 2474 also amended the available leave purposes under OFLA. Prior to the House Bill 2474 amendments, OFLA leave was available to eligible employees for the following purposes:
- Parental leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child.
- Leave to care for a serious health condition, either the employee’s own, or to care for a spouse, parent, parent-in-law, child, grandparent or grandchild, same-sex domestic partner or parent or child of a same-sex domestic partner.
- Pregnancy disability leave before or after birth of child or for prenatal care.
- Sick child leave for a child with an illness or injury that requires home care but is not serious.
- Military family leave if the employee’s spouse or same-sex domestic partner is a service member who has been called to active duty or is on leave from active duty.
- Bereavement leave after the death of a family member.
Under House Bill 2474’s amendments, an employee may also take leave for child home-care due to the closure of the child’s school or childcare provider. However, this leave availability is contingent on whether the closure of the school or childcare provider was caused by public health emergency.
Given the end of the public health emergency on April 1, 2022, the availability for this leave also ended. Do note, though, that OFLA leave is still available to care for a child who is suffering from an illness, injury or condition that is not a serious health condition but that requires home care.
What Employers Can Do
As the COVID-19 numbers continue to shift in areas around the country, it’s important to take note of what leave benefits are contingent on a public health emergency. If governors or mayors end a public health emergency, some benefits available to employees may also end.
What ReedGroup Is Doing
ReedGroup continuously tracks and analyzes legislation and executive orders addressing federal and state leave and disability benefits to ensure our products and processes remain compliant and are up to date. Overwhelmed by the ever-changing leave-law landscape? ReedGroup has solutions for you, including comprehensive absence management administration and compliant SaaS products. 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.