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Paid Family, Medical Leave Bill in Oregon Senate's Hands

Under a paid family and medical leave bill in the Oregon State Legislature, workers would get 100% of wages while they're out on leave. (designer491/Adobe Stock)
Under a paid family and medical leave bill in the Oregon State Legislature, workers would get 100% of wages while they're out on leave. (designer491/Adobe Stock)
June 24, 2019

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Senate could help the state join seven other states with paid family and medical leave laws.

The paid leave bill that passed in the House last week would allow employees up to 12 weeks away from work in situations such as the birth of a child or to take care of a loved one with a serious medical condition.

Currently, most workers can take up to 12 weeks off without pay under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Andrea Paluso, executive director of the advocacy group Family Forward Oregon, says the legislation will help people at all income levels.

"We have structured the wage replacement so that folks who are earning the lowest amount of wages will get 100% of their wages when they're out on leave, not just a portion of that,” she states. “So really wanting to make sure that not only does this program exist and in theory cover everyone, but it actually is accessible to everyone."

Paluso says it's important to make sure people with lower wage jobs have access to this program because they are least likely to have paid leave policies at work.

Employers with fewer than 25 employees would be exempt from making contributions into the program. Opponents say it will make it harder to run a business in Oregon.

Paluso says folks already are facing major life events and this bill helps employers and employees deal with them.

"Employees having children, getting sick, having family members get sick, having our parents age and need our help – this is already happening to every one of us, and right now what we're doing is asking for the working families in our state and the employers in our state to operate in a system with no support," she states,

Paluso says the bill has broad bipartisan support and is expected to pass this week, which was scheduled to be the last week of the session.

However, the session could be extended after Republican senators took their own leave from the capital last week to avoid a vote on a climate bill.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR