As the April 2022 snowstorm in Oregon fades into a distant memory, it’s time to do some spring cleaning on employer furlough policies. There are two recent changes that may require updates to your employee handbook.
Oregon Paid Sick Leave—Expanded to account for evacuation orders, poor air quality and heat.
BOLI recently adopted a rule, effective April 1, 2022, which makes permanent a temporary rule allowing employees to use paid sick leave due to weather-related hazards. Under the permanent rule, employees (other than first responders) can use Oregon paid sick leave when:
- A Level 2 (“SET”) or Level 3 (“GO”) Emergency Evacuation Order – for example, in the event of a wildfire – that applies to either (1) the place of business of the employer, either (2) at the employee’s home address; or
- An authorized determination that the air quality or heat index is at a level at which exposure would endanger the health of the employee.
While an evacuation order could affect any employer in Oregon, the air quality/heat index protections appear to be geared toward outdoor workers – where work could be hazardous due to air quality or heat – and probably would do not apply to those working indoors in an air-conditioned office in most cases. Employers should update their paid sick leave policies accordingly.
Family Medical Leave in Oregon – 180 Day Length of Service Requirement Back in Effect
Last year, as part of its efforts to address the COVID-related public health emergency, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 2474, which during the period covered by a public health emergency has allowed eligible employees of covered employers to take leave under the Oregon Family Leave Act (“OFLA”) if they had worked for the employer for at least 30 days, instead of the required 180 days.
With COVID-19-related hospitalizations and declining case counts in Oregon, Governor Brown lifted Oregon’s public health emergency declaration, effective April 1, 2022. This means employees must return to work for at least 180 days before being eligible for leave under the OFLA.
HB 2474 also provided that a temporary break in service of 180 days or less (for example, in the case of temporary leave or layoff) would not affect an employee’s eligibility for OFLA. This amendment to OFLA keep on going. OFLA-eligible employees who are terminated or removed from the schedule but return to service within 180 days remain OFLA-eligible upon their return. Credit for days of employment prior to a break in service must also be returned to the employee if the employee is rehired/returned to service within 180 days. Any leave taken in the previous leave year, including prior to the break in service, will continue to count towards the employee’s leave entitlement.