Paid Leave Oregon – Employer Equivalent Plan Application Deadline
November 16, 2022
On September 6, 2022, the Oregon Employment Department (OED) opened the application process on Equivalent plan submission for employers under Oregon’s paid family and medical leave (“Paid Leave Oregon”). Under this program, an employer’s Equivalent Plan must provide the same or better benefits as the Paid Leave Oregon program to all full-time and part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees and may not be more restrictive or cost employees any more than the base rate established by the OED. Employers should review the plan requirements, determine if the employer intends to provide benefits through the Equivalent Plan, and submit an application for approval.
Paid Leave Oregon provided guidance that employer-paid leave plans must meet the following requirements to be considered an equivalent plan:
- Cover all Oregon employees (including full-time, part-time, permanent, or temporary) employed with the business for at least 30 days
- Provide 12 weeks of paid family, medical, and safe leave annually, and add two weeks for pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions
- Issue first benefit payment within two weeks of receiving an employee’s claim or their first day of leave
- Do not require employees to contribute more than 60% of the total contribution rate
- Provide cost breakdown for employee contributions
- Allow employees to take leave daily or weekly
The OED stated employers must submit to Paid Leave Oregon an equivalent plan application for approval or a declaration of intent through their Frances Online account or by mail. Paid Leave Oregon has up to 30 days to issue a decision on an equivalent plan. Once approved, an equivalent plan becomes effective at the start of the next quarter.
To be exempt from the required quarterly contribution payments effective January 1 2023, employers should make a note of the November 30, 2022, deadline for submission of one of the following:
- An Equivalent Plan Application that meets the requirements for Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance (PFMLI) covering all Oregon employees, OR
- A Declaration of Intentcertifying they will submit an Equivalent Plan Application for approval no later than May 31, 2023.
If an employer does not meet the November 30 deadline, they still have the opportunity to submit an Equivalent Plan Application but will be required to remit quarterly contributions starting on January 1, 2023, until the start of the quarter following when their plan was approved through the OED. The Equivalent Plan Guidebook provides additional guidance on the deadline requirements for each 2023 quarter. Once an equivalent plan is approved, employees apply for and receive paid leave benefits directly through their employer’s plan.
Moving forward, employers must also apply and pay the fee for re-approval of their Equivalent Plan either:
(1) annually for the first three years, due 30 days before the anniversary date of the effective date of the approved plan or,
(2) when substantive changes are made to their approved plan.
Paid Leave Oregon Overview
The Paid Leave Oregon program, created in 2019, is funded by both employer and employee contributions. Effective January 1, 2023, employers with 25 or more employees will begin paying at least 40% of contributions and withholding up to 60% of contributions from employee wages, up to a maximum 1.0% combined contribution rate on employee wages of up to $132,900 (indexed annually for inflation). The OED will annually determine both the contribution rate and taxable wage limit.
Employers with fewer than 25 employees are exempt from paying the employer contribution but are still required to collect and report employee contributions. Also, if employers with fewer than 25 employees elect to pay the 40% employer portion, they may be eligible for a state grant to assist with additional costs due to qualified paid leave paid to an employee. Self-employed individuals may opt-in to the program voluntarily.