The Oregon Employment Department has rebooted its website for the Paid Leave Oregon program, a state benefit program approved by lawmakers in 2019 to provide paid time off to working Oregonians. The program’s new web page includes sections specifically for employers, workers and the self-employed, and is available in five languages other than English.
The addition of multiple languages has been a priority for OED, after the agency struggled at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to serve unemployed Oregonians who weren’t fluent in English.
Paid Leave Oregon provides up to 12 weeks of paid time off for Oregonians experiencing a qualifying issue, such as recovery from a serious illness, care for an ailing relative or response to domestic violence. Pregnancy is also a qualifying condition with up to 14 weeks of paid leave benefits.
The initial plan was for the benefits to be available by now. But the program fell behind. It started collecting contributions from employers and employees on Jan. 1, but workers won’t be able to access the benefits until September.
To comply with the Paid Leave Oregon law, employers have to withhold and contribute 0.6% of each worker’s wages as the employee contribution to the fund. For larger organizations — with 25 or more employees — the employer is also responsible for contributing on behalf of each of their workers. In those cases, the employer contribution is 0.4% of wages. The program has a ceiling for annual wages at $132,900 for each employee.
Employers can avoid making payments to the state fund, if they offer an equivalent paid leave program that meets state approval. People who are self-employed, or work as independent contractors, can opt into the Paid Leave Oregon program, but are not required to participate.
The employment department’s updated website includes a calculator to help workers and employers figure out their contribution amounts.
It also has a “quick escape” feature so that survivors of domestic violence can navigate away to another site by clicking a big, red “Exit” button at the top of the page.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reversed the percentages for employee and employer contributions to the Paid Leave Oregon program. OPB regrets the error.