Family and Medical Leave in Oregon
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What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act?
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was an important step in forcing employers to grant time off to employees with family and medical issues. Whether you are sick yourself, or caring for a sick family member (parent, child, or spouse only), or have a newborn or adopted child, the FMLA will protect your job while you are away. To qualify for FMLA protections, you must meet these requirements:
- The employer must have 50 or more employees.
- The employee must have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.
If those two requirements are met, then the employer must grant 12 weeks of unpaid family/medical leave per year to its employees. Family/medical leave is defined as needed time off to care for your own medical condition, or those of a family member, or having a newborn (or adopted) child come into your household.
How Do Oregon Laws Effect My Rights Regarding Leave?
It is important to note that the FMLA is a Federal Law, which means it applies equally to every state. The protections granted above are available to you regardless of what your state law says. Although many states have laws that offer less protection and benefits to employees, employers covered by the FMLA must comply with the federal or state provision that provides the greater benefit to their employees. You have no obligation to designate whether the leave you take is FMLA leave or leave under State law.
So basically, the FMLA outlines your basic rights in every state. Oregon law can only add to your benefits.
Additional Benefits of Oregon Law
- Coverage:Oregon law is much more generous than the FMLA, and covers any employer that has more than 25 employees for at least 20 weeks a year.
- Eligibility: Here as well the Oregon statute is more lenient than the federal government. An Employee only has to work 25 hours a week, for the previous 180 days, to qualify for protection.
- Amount: Oregon, like Washington D.C., allows for different types of leave to be taken independantly of each other. Parental leave (caring for a new born or newly adopted child) can be taken for 12 weeks out of the year, while caring for a sick or injured child constitutes a separate 12 weeks.
- Family Members Defined: Same as the FMLA, except for the addition of "spouse's parent," which is usually not one of the protected classes.
- Substitution: An employee cannot be forced to use up paid vacation leave before going on a medical or family leave. He may, however, choose to do so.
- Reinstatement: An Employee must be restored to same position, if it still exists, when the return to the job. If the position no longer exists, the employee must be restored to any available equivalent position with all terms and conditions at a job located within 20 miles of the site of the employee's former position. The law makes no provisions on what is to be done if there is no available job to fit either description, so it is important to consult an employment attorney to protect yourself from problems down the road.
- Medical Certification: Oregon law may require you to provide some medical certification about your, or your family member's, illness.
Does Oregon Require Any Special Notification Requests?
Yes, a minor one. While the general provisions of "providing 30 days notice where possible" apply, if you unable to do that (because the injury is sudden, for example), you must provide oral notice to your employer within 24 hours, and written notice within 3 days, of the first day of leave. The law is unclear on what happens if this provision is not followed, so it would be wise to consult an attorney if this is what happened in your case.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you or a loved one has fallen ill, and are in need of medical help, you shouldn't have to sacrifice job security in order to take care of them. This field is particularly difficult to navigate, and is full of over-lapping statutes, so a good lawyer will be essential for you to maximize your rights and protect your job. An employment attorney will be familiar with both State and Federal Law, and can help you get the most benefit from your employer, and the inevitable problems with employer's health insurance and coverage.
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Last Modified: 05-07-2014 04:07 PM PDT
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