The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) sometimes offers longer legal job protections to more residents than the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Mothers can enjoy up to 36 weeks of legal job protections if she experiences serious pregnancy complications, and then needs to provide at-home care for a sick infant. The national standard is only twelve.

Other groups excluded under the federal rules qualify under the more lenient state-based criteria. However, all this extra time off remains unpaid.

Follow this outline to understand your rights and find ways to fund the time away from the job.

Does Oregon offer paid maternity leave? As of mid-2018, the state did not have a law or program to provide income replacement benefits to people absent from work. However, some employers offer the benefit on a voluntary basis in order to attract and retain personnel.

The majority of parents will have to consider alternative forms of financial help.

Financial Assistance

Many Oregon families require financial assistance during an unpaid family medical leave. It is difficult to make ends meet when at least one income goes away temporarily. Unfortunately, expenses frequently rise as income falls.

Taking out a new loan or adjusting payments on existing obligations are two contrasting choices.

Personal Loans

Request a personal loan to receive a cushion of cash to help with expenses during maternity leave. Use the borrowed funding to spend more time bonding with your baby. The time is precious and priceless.

Be careful about borrowing money during an absence from work. You will need to repay the lender with interest in monthly installments. This will be difficult to do if your employer does not hold your job open. Verify your eligibility for legal job protections in the next section.

Deferment & Forbearance

Student loan deferment and mortgage forbearance are two other alternatives for financial help during unpaid maternity or family medical leave. These options reduce the amount of money flowing out rather than into the household.

The lenders may agree to allow you to skip a few monthly installment payments while one or both parents are not working. Be aware, they are not forgiving what you owe. Interest will continue to accrue and accumulate. However, you can relieve some pressure and avoid delinquencies.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability in Oregon is the primary method of providing paid maternity leave benefits. However, most families miss out. The state does not offer a program covering non-occupational accidents, illnesses – including pregnancy.

You must purchase a private policy before conception, and prior to any accident or illness. People who take this proactive step may enjoy partial income replacement for these covered events.

  • Pregnancy disability due to medical complications before birth
  • Mom’s recovery from labor and delivery: 6 to 8 weeks
  • Employee’s own disabling medical condition unrelated to pregnancy

Unemployment Compensation

Collecting unemployment compensation offers a delayed option for paid maternity leave under Oregon law. The state delays unemployment benefits for most families because of these basic requirements.

  1. Able to work
  2. Available for work
  3. Actively seeking work

A small group of parents who quit or lose their job due to a good cause reason may be able to file for unemployment after their caregiver duties end – once they are able and available for work.

Section 471-030-0038 of the Oregon Unemployment code defines a “compelling family reason.” This definition describes many caregiver roles that lead an extended work absence.[1]

“The illness or disability of a member of the individual’s immediate family necessitates care by another and the individual’s employer does not accommodate the employee’s request for time off.”

Oregon Paid Sick Leave law requires 40 hours of paid and/or unpaid job protections for all workers in the state. While helpful to have, 40 hours equates to 1 week. Most maternity and family medical absences last much longer.

The eligibility for income replacement benefits varies by employer size and location.[2]

In Portland Out of Portland
40 Hours Job Protection Under 6 Under 10
40 Hours Paid Sick Leave 6 or More 10 or More

OFLA vs FMLA: Unpaid Legal Job Protections in Oregon

Oregon has two laws providing legal job protections during a work absence. The Family Leave Act (OFLA) is a state-specific regulation, while the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to employers and workers across the nation.

These two overlapping yet distinctive rules create some confusion and lead to two common questions, which we address in this section. In both cases, the answer is that it depends on several factors.

The time off is unpaid under both regulations.

  1. Do OFLA and FMLA run concurrently? The answer is yes, provided both laws apply to a given situation.
    • Meet both serious health condition definitions
    • Satisfy both family member definitions
    • The worker and employer meet both coverage requirements
  2. How long is maternity leave in Oregon? The result could be 0, 12, 24, or 36 weeks depending on the answer to these additional questions.
    • What health conditions apply?
    • Which household member is involved?
    • Are the worker and employer covered?

As you can see, the best way to answer these questions for your situation is by comparing the definitions for serious health conditions, family members, and covered employers.

Serious Health Condition

The definitions of serious and non-serious health conditions are critical for determining how long a maternity or family leave may last in Oregon. They also determine whether the two rules run concurrently.

The OFLA and FMLA have unique and overlapping rules around which health conditions qualify.[3]

Health Condition OFLA FMLA
Birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child Yes Yes
Care for a family member with a serious health condition Yes Yes
Employee´s own serious health condition Yes Yes
Pregnancy disability or prenatal care Yes* No*
Care for a sick child that requires home care Yes** No**

* OFLA allows the caregiver to take an additional 12 weeks

**OFLA allows the parent to take an additional 12 weeks

Definition of Family Member

The definitions of a family member are another critical factor in determining the length of leave in Oregon. They also determine whether the two rules run concurrently. Both the OFLA and FMLA define the criteria in unique ways.

Family Member OFLA FMLA
Spouse, child, parent Yes Yes
Grandparents and grandchildren Yes No
Parents-in-law Yes No
Same-gender domestic partners Yes No
Children and parents of same-gender domestic partners Yes No

Covered Employers & Workers

The definitions of covered employers and workers are a third critical factor for estimating how long a leave of absence lasts in Oregon. They also factor into whether the two rules run concurrently – the person must qualify under both.

Both the OFLA and FMLA define covered employers and eligible employees differently.

Eligibility Rule OFLA FMLA
Time with employer 180 days 12 months
Hours worked 650 1,250
# Employees 25+ in Oregon 50+ in 75-mile radius

Length of Parental Leave Rights in Oregon

In this section will pull from the various rules and definitions in order to provide examples of how long parental leave lasts in Oregon for several common groups. Keep in mind that the answer is different for every person.

For these examples for fathers, mothers, and small businesses to illustrate the broad range of correct answers to a seemingly simple question.

Fathers on Paternity Leave

Paternity leave for Oregon fathers lasts from 0 to 24 weeks depending on employer size and other eligibility factors. The top length of time is much shorter for dads because they do not qualify under the pregnancy disability provision.

  • 0 Weeks
    • Men working for employers with less than 25 employees
    • Fathers with less than 180 tenure at the current job
    • Men working part-time with less than 650 hours logged
  • 12 Weeks
    • Dads taking time to bond with his baby
  • 24 Weeks
    • Fathers caring for mothers with serious pregnancy complications
    • New dads providing at-home care for an infant

Mothers on Maternity Leave

Maternity leave for mothers in Oregon can last up to 36 weeks if eligible for OFLA. In this arena, we focus more on the health experience of mom to arrive at the examples.

Three sets of job-protection reasons may apply during her pregnancy and after childbirth.

  1. Pregnancy disability leave can last up to 12 weeks
    1. Serious medical complications while pregnant
    2. Recovery from labor and delivery
      1. 42 days after vaginal birth
      2. 56 days after C-section
    3. Parental leave to bond with her newborn infant baby lasts 12 weeks
    4. Homecare for a sick (not seriously ill) baby lasting 12 weeks

Small Business

Parental leave for small business employees in Oregon can last from 0 to 36 weeks. In this arena, we build on the two previous examples to illustrate how employer size determines your rights.

Small businesses employ many people because there are so many of these tiny entities. The OFLA rules kick in once a small business grows to more than 25 workers. However, most small businesses fail these criteria.

  • 0 weeks for small businesses with fewer than 25 employees
  • Up to 36 weeks for small businesses with 25 or more employees

Footnoted Sources:

[1] Section 471-030-0038

[2] Sick Leave

[3] OFLA Rules