Maternity and Parental Leave Laws in Oregon

Oregon's Family Leave Act provides the right to take unpaid pregnancy and parenting leave, as does the Family and Medical Leave Act.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law

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. OFLA and FMLA cover both maternity leave and paternity leave.

If you're an expectant mother, you have other federal and state protections in Oregon. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which might 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're unable to work due to childbirth and pregnancy.

But that's not the extent of your family leave rights in Oregon. Here's what you need to know about taking pregnancy, maternity, or paternity leave in Oregon, and getting paid for that time off.

Taking Time Off During Pregnancy in Oregon

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.

Protection Against Pregnancy Discrimination in Oregon

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act doesn't specifically 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. Not doing so is considered a form of sex discrimination.

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.

Pregnancy Leave Under the FMLA

The FMLA gives eligible you the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period when you're unable to work during pregnancy and for prenatal care. But the law doesn't apply to every employer or every worker.

The FMLA applies only to employers with at least 50 employees. And to be eligible for leave you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, and at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding your leave.

(Learn more about your right to leave for pregnancy and childbirth under the FMLA.)

Pregnancy Leave Under the Oregon Family Leave Act

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've 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.

Part-Time or Reduced Schedule Pregnancy Leave

The FMLA and the OFLA allow you to use your pregnancy leave to take shorter breaks 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.

Parental Leave in Oregon

Both federal law and Oregon law give you the right to take parental leave—maternity or paternity leave—to bond with a new child. The laws apply after childbirth, adoption, or a foster placement.

Maternity and Paternity Leave Under the FMLA

The FMLA gives you the right to use part of your annual 12 weeks of family 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're only guaranteed another ten weeks to use for parental leave.

Oregon Parental Leave Law

The Oregon Family Leave Act also provides parental leave, but it works differently than federal law. Under OFLA, you're entitled to a full 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, even if you've already used up to 12 weeks of leave for pregnancy disability and childbirth. In other words, you might be eligible for up to 24 weeks of leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting.

And, after you've used up your leave allotment for pregnancy and parenting, you can still take up to 12 more weeks off work if your child is sick and requires home care (called sick child leave).

The eligibility requirements to use OFLA leave for parenting are less strict than the requirements for pregnancy leave. For parental leave in Oregon, you still must have worked for your employer for at least 180 days. But you don't need to have worked at least 25 hours a week in the 180 days before starting your leave.

This difference allows new mothers who've been off work for pregnancy disability and childbirth to immediately begin their parental leave.

Part-Time or Reduced Schedule Parental Leave

What if you want to use your parenting leave under the FMLA a little at a time? For example, let's say you want 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? Under FMLA, your employer needs to agree to it.

The Oregon Family Leave Act generally follows the same rule. You can't take intermittent maternity or paternity leave unless your employer agrees to it—except for the birth of your child. Employers must allow you to use OFLA leave to give birth or attend the birth of your child, and you don't need to immediately use the rest of your parental leave.

Parental Leave When Both Parents Work for the Same Employer

If you're 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 doesn't apply to unmarried couples.) But 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 parental leave. But your employer doesn't have to allow you and your co-parent to take parental leave at the same time.

Getting Paid During Parental Leave

FMLA leave is unpaid. But that doesn't mean there's no way to get paid during your maternity or paternity leave.

Paid Parental Leave Under the Paid Leave Oregon Program

Under the state Paid Leave Oregon program, you can get paid time off for qualifying life events, including maternity or paternity leave. Oregon's paid leave program is funded by employees and larger employers (those with more than 25 employees).

Paid Leave Oregon pays for time off when you can't work due to pregnancy and while you're taking care of your child after birth, adoption, or foster placement. You're automatically covered by Paid Leave Oregon and both of the following are true:

  • you work for an employer in Oregon (even small employers), and
  • you earned at least $1,000 the year before you apply for benefits.

You can qualify for paid maternity or paternity leave in Oregon whether you work full-time, part-time, or for more than one employer. And if you're self-employed (including independent contractors) or work for a tribal government, you can opt to participate in this paid family leave program.

A few workers are excluded from coverage under Paid Leave Oregon:

  • federal employees
  • participants in work training programs that are part of state or federal assistance programs
  • participants in work-study programs for students (secondary or post-secondary), and
  • railroad employees exempted under the federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.

For information on benefit amounts, visit the Oregon Paid Leave Employees FAQs.

Using Sick Time and Other Paid Time Off for Parental Leave

Even if you're not covered by Paid Leave Oregon, you might still be able to get paid for at least some of your parental leave. You can use your accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, ETO, or PTO) during your time off. Your employer might actually require you to use these paid time off benefits during your leave.

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, which you can use for pregnancy and childbirth as well as for parenting. (Smaller employers must also provide sick time, but it doesn't have to be paid.)

Your employer might also offer maternity and paternity leave benefits, parental benefits, or short-term disability insurance that covers pregnancy and childbirth. Talk to your HR representative or manager (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of leave are available to you.

Learn more about short-term disability and pregnancy leave laws across the United States.

Updated February 16, 2023

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