With the passage of House Bill 2005, Oregon became the eighth state to offer residents paid family and medical leave. In fact, Oregon's paid family leave law is believed to be the most generous policy in the country, enabling workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off following a serious illness, incident of domestic violence, or the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child.
Oregon's paid family and medical leave bill was signed into law Monday by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who described signing it as the culmination of nearly 30 years of work. "In 1991, as an advocate for the Women’s Rights Coalition, I first began working on Paid Family Leave," Brown said in a statement, according to HuffPost. "Now, we can finally tell parents that they no longer will have to worry about losing their pay when they are having a baby or need to care for a loved one."
The bill has been widely praised as the most generous state policy on paid leave to be implemented in the country. Along with giving workers access to up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new child or sick relative, or to recuperate from a serious illness or incident of domestic violence, the bill also mandates that low-income workers get paid 100 percent of their wages while on leave. According to a report from the Associated Press and KTVZ, it is the first paid family leave policy in the country to include such a provision.
"At some point, almost every Oregonian will need to take time away from work to deal with a family or medical issue, whether it's to welcome a new child, help a loved one with a serious illness or injury, or to deal with your own health issue," KTVZ reported state Sen. Kathleen Taylor said. "No one should have to choose between paying their bills or caring for a loved one or for themselves." Taylor claimed the state's new paid family leave policy would "provide a safety net" for workers in Oregon.
The Oregon law also includes inclusive language regarding the definition of family, an important aspect for LGBTQ workers. There's also a provision that guarantees a worker will have a job to come back to after they taking paid leave.
What's more, HuffPost reported that the new law likely benefit almost all of Oregon's workers as its eligibility requirements dictate only that a worker earn at least $1,000 in wages a year. Under that standard, it is believed that even tipped and minimum wage workers working part time will qualify for paid leave benefits.
Advocates of paid family leave policies celebrated Oregon's new law as a major win for workers and families. "With the passage of HB 2005, we are proud to bring the most progressive paid family medical leave policy in the nation to Oregon’s families," NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon Executive Director Grayson Dempsey said in a statement. "There can be no reproductive justice without strong economic policies that allow families to welcome a child or care for themselves or their loved ones during a time of medical emergency without jeopardizing their financial security."
NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon characterized the law as a "historic step toward reproductive and economic equity for all people." And, undoubtedly, countless families in Oregon and across the country agree.