Employment leave laws provide protection for employees who have serious medical conditions and also provides protection in circumstances when employees are called upon to care for a close relative with a serious medical condition. Prior to passage of the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") in 1993, employees would often lose their jobs due to serious medical conditions. Oregon has passed its own Oregon Family Leave Act ("OFLA") in 1995; OFLA provides in some respects greater protection for employees, as it applies to employers of 25 or more employees, whereas FMLA coverage is limited to employers of 50 or more employees. Both laws prohibit employers from interfering with or discriminating against employees who take advantage of medical leave laws. Unless an employer has contractually committed otherwise, the protected leave (generally up to 12 weeks in a year) is unpaid leave. The idea of protected leave is that the employee is entitled to return to the same position the employee left, provided the position still exists. Oregon has also recently, effective January 1, 2016, become the 4th state in the U.S. to pass a paid Sick Leave Law, which does require paid sick leave to be provided by employers with 10 or more employees. Entitlement to paid sick leave, up to 40 hours in a year, is earned on a weekly vesting schedule established in the statute (although the hours can also be front-loaded). Coverage under employee leave laws can sometimes overlap with coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and with workers compensation laws, creating a complex legal environment for both employers and employees.
A basic overview of the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA).