Oregon Sick Time, Paid Leave Program And Emergencies Part I



09/14/2022

Author: Stephanie L. Leffler, SPHR


This post provides employers guidance and resources to navigate the complex leave laws that include time off for emergencies. There is much happening in Oregon including heat and wind which create dangerous fire conditions, planned power outages that may impact your business and require you to provide time off for employees. We will concentrate on OR Sick Time and Paid Leave Oregon Program (PLO).


All Oregon employers and out of state employers with employees who reside in Oregon should already be accruing or front-loading Oregon Sick Time. Employers are required to provide employees with regular notices of their balances. There is a labor law poster requirement too. It makes the most sense to record the time on paychecks. OR Sick Time leave is paid for employers with 10+ employees or 6 or more if they reside in Portland. Otherwise, the leave is unpaid unless you decide otherwise. A rule of thumb is that if you issue a W-2 to someone, this is your clue that they should be receive paid or unpaid sick time.


The reasons for taking sick time are broad and include bereavement leave, absences related to domestic violence, sexual assault, a public health emergency that requires you to close your business or requires schools or day care facilities. Governor Brown declared a state of emergency on August 28, 2022 due to a wildfire emergency. Therefore, if a school or daycare is closed due to a power outage, you would need to allow the employee time off.


The Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) Program is administrated by the OR Employment Department. The program allows all employees (part or full-time) to take 12-14 weeks of paid time off to care for themselves and loved ones when life impacts their health and safety. There are three leave categories; Family, medical and safe leave.


Frances, Oregon’s online system named Frances launched in September 2022. The only requirement to participate in PLO is an employee must have earned at least $1000 in wages during the previous year. Many workers will receive full wage replacement. The PLO requires employers to restore the employee to their former or in some cases a similar position.

Employers should use Frances to submit payroll reports or process paid leave opt out application meaning you have an equivalent plan in place and want to be exempted from the program. As of January 01, 2023 employers subject to transit tax will begin to use Frances to submit transit taxes. If you are a small employer with less than 25 employees and granted an exemption, employees will not be excluded from the payroll tax deduction, nor will they be disqualified from receiving PLO.


The PLO is paid through collection of payroll taxes. The tax will be no more than one

percent of wages with employees bearing 60% of the 1%. The tax cannot exceed 1% of

employee wages, up to a maximum of $132,900 in wages. Employers with less than 25

employees do not have to pay the 40% portion of the tax. If you have one employee,

you must allow the employee to take PLO.


Employers may apply for a grant to cover wages while the employee is on PLO.

Reasons for taking paid leave include new parents, caring for themselves or other

family members serious health condition. Safe time is another reason and applies to

employees who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment and

stalking.


PLO Notice Requirements

Employers can request 30-days’ notice for foreseen events such as surgery. In an

emergency employees must notify employers within 24 hours of taking leave and

provide written notice within three days of beginning leave.


PLO Important Dates

Deductions will begin for PLO is January 01, 2023. Employees can apply and use leave

as of September 03, 2023.


What is the PLO Cost?

Employers will pay 40% and employees 60% of the 1% contribution rate.

Scenario: For instance, if you have 25+ employees and pay 1M in payroll the tax would

be $10,000 total into the PLO. $4000 for the employer and $6000 for employees.


Why It Matters:

• In some cases, PLO allows workers, to receive their full pay while taking time off for

important life events.

• Employers are required to post information about sick and PLO and notify

employees about job protection.


PLO and Small Employers with 25 or Less Employees

• Your employees must participate no matter your size.

• You can choose to pay their portion of the tax.

• You do not have to pay the employer tax portion, but you need to submit your employees’ contributions.

• You must collect the tax via payroll and show this on the employee check or voucher.

• Employers who decide to opt in can apply for assistance grants to help cover costs of hiring workers to cover for the employee who takes leave.


Tips to Prepare:

• Get started with Frances.

• Ensure your payroll provider has deduction codes set up to report sick, safe time, PLO and other leave on the paycheck including current balances.

Sign up for the remote posting service.

• Ensure your handbook is updated with a written policy about the types of leave available.

• Apply to be exempted from the PLO due to an equivalent plan. We can help you find an equivalent plan whether is it an employer or fully insured insurance policy.

• Authorize employees to take time off.

If you offer paid leave, it must be equivalent, and you must submit an equivalent plan application along with a $250 application fee to the OR Employment Department.

• Contact GourmetHR for help and compliance.


A Reminder About Workplace Exposure To Excessive Heat

• Mandate extra cool down breaks

• Train your workers about the dangers of heat stress and exhaustion

• Assign an employee safety advocate to remind workers to hydrate, take breaks and wear


PPE. Pro Tip:

Supervisor should assign an employee as an advocate and management liaison.

• In a fire zone? Check your business insurance policy to ensure coverage.

• Purchase pop up shade shelters


Let us know if you have questions. As always, thanks for reading and be safe out there.

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