If you work in Oregon, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) give you the right to take unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) also prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which may give you the right to take time off work in some cases. And, Oregon requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, which you can use while you are unable to work due to childbirth and pregnancy.
There are two types of laws that might protect you if you need pregnancy leave: laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination and laws that require pregnancy leave.
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not require employers to give pregnant employees time off work. However, it does require employers to treat employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy just as it treats other employees who are temporarily disabled. For example, if your company lets employees take time off for illness or injuries, then it must allow pregnant employees to take the same time off when they are unable to work. Oregon has its own law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination, which works the same way.
The FMLA gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period when they are unable to work during pregnancy and for prenatal care, but it applies only to employers with at least 50 employees. And employees are eligible for leave only if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding their leave. (Learn more about the FMLA, including eligibility requirements, in our article on FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.)
The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) is similar to the federal FMLA, but it applies to more employees and provides more time off for parents. The OFLA covers employers with 25 or more employees (compared to employers with 50 employees under FMLA). And, employees are eligible for leave if they have worked at least 180 days for their employer, and at least 25 hours per week during the 180 days immediately before starting their leave.
Like the FMLA, the OFLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks off per year. However, under the OFLA, employees who have taken a full 12 weeks off for pregnancy disability leave are entitled to additional time for parental leave, as explained below.
The FMLA and the OFLA allow employees to take pregnancy leave intermittently, if it’s medically necessary. For example, if you have a prenatal check-up or morning sickness, you don’t have to take a whole day off; you can use a few hours of leave and then go back to work.
The FMLA also gives employees the right to use part of their annual 12 weeks of leave to take time off to bond with a new child. But if you use, say, two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you will have only ten weeks left to use for parenting leave.
The Oregon Family Leave Act also provides parenting leave, but it works differently. You are entitled to a full 12 weeks of unpaid parenting leave under the OFLA, even if you have already used up to 12 weeks of leave for pregnancy disability and childbirth. In other words, you may be eligible for up to 24 weeks of leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. (And, after you have used up your leave allotment for pregnancy and parenting, you are still entitled to take up to 12 weeks of sick child leave, if your child is sick and requires home care.)
The eligibility requirements to use OFLA leave for parenting are different from the requirements for pregnancy leave. For parenting, you must only have worked for your employer for at least 180 days; you need not have worked at least 25 hours a week in the 180 days before starting your leave. This difference allows new mothers who have been off work for pregnancy disability and childbirth to immediately begin their parental leave.
If you want to use your parenting leave under the FMLA a little at a time—for example, by returning to work part-time for a while, or by taking some of your leave when the baby is born and some at a later point when your spouse or partner returns to work—your employer needs to agree to it. The OFLA generally follows the same rule—that you can't take intermittent parental leave unless your employer agrees to it—except for the birth of your child. Employers must allow employees to use OFLA leave to give birth or attend the birth of their child, and employees do not need to immediately use the rest of their parental leave.
If you are married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can limit your total amount of FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks for both of you. (Note that this rule does not apply to unmarried couples.) However, whatever portion of your own 12 weeks of FMLA leave you don’t use for parenting will still be available to you for other reasons, including your own serious health condition.
The OFLA is more generous. Under Oregon’s law, parents who work for the same employer are each entitled to 12 weeks of parenting leave. Your employer does not need to allow you and your co-parent to take parenting leave at the same time, however.
FMLA and OFLA leave is unpaid. However, you may ask—or your employer may require you—to use your accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, or PTO) to get paid during your time off.
Oregon is one of a few states that require employers to provide paid sick time to employees. If your employer has at least ten employees, your employer must give you one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours you work. (Smaller employers must also provide sick time, but it does not have to be paid.) You may use this sick leave for pregnancy and childbirth as well as for parenting.
Your employer may also offer maternity and paternity leave benefits, parental benefits, or short-term disability insurance. Talk to your HR representative or manager (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of leave are available to you.