Oregon, Connecticut Pass Sweeping Paid Family Leave Measures

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

July 9, 2019

Oregon has become the eighth state to approve paid family and medical leave with a measure that appears to be the broadest in the nation. Oregon passed its bill shortly after Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed a law implementing a broad paid family leave insurance program in the Constitution State.

The Oregon bill, which Gov. Kate Brown has said she plans to sign, will provide workers who earn more than $1,000 a year 12 weeks of paid leave annually to care for a new baby, an adopted or foster child, their own illness or a sick family member. Other notable features include:

  • Offering 100% wage replacement to low-income workers, the first paid leave plan in the US to do so;
  • Offering paid family leave to domestic violence victims and for issues relating to harassment, sexual assault or stalking; and
  • Defining family broadly to include non-blood related family provided it is tantamount to a familial relationship.

A payroll assessment will support Oregon's paid leave program, not to exceed 1 percent of payroll. Employers with 25 or more employees will contribute 40 percent of the overall funding to support the program. The measure does not require smaller employers to contribute, but makes clear that employees at these companies will still be eligible.

Oregon employees will not begin receiving paid time off until 2023 to give the state time to build the system needed to administer the benefit and to collect the payroll tax.

Connecticut Joins the Trend

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed a law in late June covering all private employers in the state that will allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave, up to $900 per week. Employees who suffer a serious pregnancy-related complication will be eligible for an additional two weeks of paid time off.

Similar to the Oregon measure, Connecticut's law will be funded through payroll deductions from every private employee's paycheck, though these deductions will be 0.5 percent and employers will not have to contribute.

The deductions will begin January 1, 2021, with benefits slated to begin on January 1, 2022. However, the law provides for the potential of earlier payments for parental bonding leave "if it is deemed administratively feasible."

At a bill signing ceremony, Gov. Lamont said, "Adopting this program means that workers who need to take time off for a new baby or recover from illness are not punished financially, and businesses do not risk losing good workers during those emergencies."

Other states with paid family and medical leave laws are:

  • California;
  • Massachusetts;
  • New Jersey;
  • New York;
  • Rhode Island; and
  • Washington.