Oregon officially became the most inclusive law in the country, with respect to paid family and medical leave, when Governor Katy Brown signed the bill into law last week (July 1, 2019).
- The law covers 12 weeks annually, to new parents, victims of domestic violence, and people who need to take care of an ill family member or themselves; an extra two weeks is given for those giving birth (New Jersey is the only other state which includes domestic violence victims in paid leave legislation)
- Family is defined to include “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with a covered individual is the equivalent of a family relationship”
- Oregon will be the first to pay low-income works 100% of their wages when they’re off, with weekly benefits capped at around $1,215 (you must earn at least $1,000 in wages a year to qualify)
- The law will be funded through a payroll tax (not to exceed 1% of employee wages)
- Employees pay 60% of the total rate and employers will cover the remaining 40%
- Employers with less than 25 employees will not pay into the program
- The program will start taking contributions in 2022, and people will be able to start using it in 2023
- Research suggests paid family and medical leave improves participation rates for new mothers in the labor force, with corresponding benefits in pay equality, infant and child health, and lowers poverty rate
- The program will take a few years to get started because it’s a new social insurance program, just like unemployment insurance or workers compensation.
The additional states that have adopted a paid family and medical leave policy include the following (along with the effective date):
- California (2004)
- New Jersey (2009)
- Rhode Island (2014)
- New York (2018)
- District of Columbia (2020)
- Washington (2020)
- Massachusetts (2021)
- Connecticut (2022)
Paid leave is on the national legislative agenda with new momentum. This new law in Oregon represents the eighth state, along with the District of Columbia, to adopt a paid family and medical leave policy. Full wage compensation for American workers in poverty will likely motivate more employees to take advantage of paid leave benefits.
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