Oregon Enacts Required Bereavement Leave

By Jenny Sherman, Trupp HR.

Effective January 1, 2014, private sector employers who are covered by the Oregon Family Leave Act must provide up to two weeks of leave for bereavement of the loss of a family member. The leave is per loss, up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period.

Oregon Family Leave (OFLA) applies to employers with 25 or more employees working in Oregon during each working day of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the year in which leave will be taken, or in the preceding year. Eligible employees must have worked for a covered employer for a period of 180 calendar days immediately preceding the date that the requested leave begins and have worked an average of 25 hours per week during that 180-day period. Employees must request leave within 60 days of receiving notification of a family member’s death.

Family members are defined as the employee’s spouse, same-sex domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild, or the same relations of an employee’s same-sex domestic partner or spouse.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) rules are under development and will be incorporated into ORS 659A. Watch for updates at their Technical Assistance for Employers pages on OFLA. Note that OFLA covers a variety of leave reasons, now including bereavement. The standard 12-weeks available to employees (not including special circumstances that expand protections) are cumulative for all of the leave types. In other words, if an employee needs time off for a serious health condition and bereavement, in most cases leave taken is protected for up to 12 weeks, combining all eligible reasons.

Steps Employers Need To Take

  • Update communications to employees on the new provisions of the OFLA rules.
  • Update compliance posters.
  • Ensure your Leave Request forms are current and include request for time off due to bereavement.
  • Develop a tracking method to understand when employees take bereavement leave under OFLA.
  • Update your handbook to ensure compliance with the new law.
  • Educate managers and supervisors who are the front line “eyes and ears” of the organization to ensure they understand their responsibility to notify the designated person in charge of employee leaves.
  • Remember that this new leave is not included in the Federal Family Leave Act protections and should not be counted against FMLA protections available in organizations of 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius.

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