Oregon now has the country’s most generous paid family leave policy.
Gov. Kate Brown recently signed a bill into law guaranteeing 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents (biological, foster or adoptive), people caring for sick relatives or those recovering from illness. Benefits will start being paid in 2023.
“Oregon families no longer need to make the difficult choice between paying the rent and staying home with their newborn, or between chemotherapy and keeping food on the table,” Brown said in a statement. “It’s absurd that our society values someone clocking in and out of their job above holding a loved one’s hand—and that will change under HB 2005, where all families who need and care for each other will be recognized.”
The policy includes extended and non-traditional family members, including step-children, grandchildren, the child of a spouse or domestic partner, a sibling or step-sibling, and any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with a covered individual is the equivalent of a family relationship.
That provision was particularly important for Asian and Pacific Islanders, two of Oregon’s fastest-growing ethnic groups, which traditionally live in multi-generational households.
“One in three Asian or Pacific Islander households in the U.S. is intergenerational, and our members care for their children, grandparents, extended family and cousins,” Ava Kamb, a field organizer for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, said in testimony to the House Committee on Rules. “Policies that narrowly define family exclude our communities from laws, programs and benefits, which is why an inclusive family definition for paid family and medical leave is an important step to ensure that all of our families are able to access this critical insurance program.”
The program also offers paid “safe leave” to workers who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or who have dependents who fit that description. It also ensures 100 percent of wages for low-income workers, capping weekly benefits around $1,200. Part-time employees are eligible, provided they earn at least $1,000 per year.