On July 18, Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) announced that it will move forward as scheduled with its paid family and medical leave (PFML) program. This follows an external actuarial study that determined the PFML insurance fund is solvent enough to pay benefits starting Sept. 3.
Starting on Aug. 14, employees covered by the state plan can begin to submit applications using the new Frances Online system up to 30 calendar days prior to the start of their intended leave. The same day, more information will be available on the Paid Leave Oregon website. Employees covered by an equivalent plan should contact their employer or leave administrator for details on how to submit claims under their equivalent plan, which may start on or before the state plan’s target date.
Other changes to Paid Family and Medical Leave
In addition to the changes introduced by Senate Bill No. 999 earlier this summer, Oregon introduced more refinements with the recent passage of Senate Bills 205, 912, and 913. While the major program elements of the PFML law remain unchanged, i.e. the covered leave reasons and leave durations, significant changes include:
Contributions No later than Dec. 15, the OED Director must set the total contribution rate, which will remain up to 1.0% of an employee’s wages. The employee’s wages for purposes of PFML contributions will now be subject to the Social Security tax wage cap, instead of the fixed amount of $132,900 set by the original PFML law.
Employee Work State Determination If an employee works in more than one state, an employer must apply the localization test to determine their work state for the purposes of PFML coverage. If an employee works entirely in Oregon, then their work is localized to Oregon. If an employee’s work cannot be localized to Oregon because they perform their work in multiple states, an employer may use the following tests: (1) base of operations, (2) direction and control, or (3) residence. The tests must be followed sequentially, i.e. an employer cannot use the residence test as the first test for determining an employee’s work state. This codifies into law the joint guidance on the determination of an employee’s work state that the Oregon and Washington PFML agencies issued last October.
Benefits An employee is no longer prohibited from receiving more than 100% of their average weekly wage when using paid sick time, vacation leave, or any other paid leave in combination with PFML benefits. This means that employers may allow an employee to use all of their earned paid leave, in addition to allowing employees to use a partial amount to top up their PFML benefits for full wage replacement.
Overpayments and Ineligibility If not due to fraud or misrepresentation, benefit overpayments may be recovered by deductions from future weekly benefits of the covered individual within five years of the overpayment. Additionally, a person convicted of using fraud to obtain PFML benefits will be ineligible until they reimburse the PFML insurance fund for the full amount received, in addition to any penalties imposed by the court.
Information Sharing The Department of Revenue (DOR) is allowed to disclose limited individual taxpayer information to the Oregon Employment Department (OED), and vice versa, to detect identity theft or fraud in government programs, including PFML and unemployment insurance. This makes permanent the temporary authority granted to the DOR and the OED during the pandemic to share information to detect unemployment benefit fraud.
How is FINEOS helping carriers and employers prepare for paid leave programs?
FINEOS will be ready to administer the Oregon PFML law, especially for carriers seeking equivalent plans to comply with Oregon PFML. Using modern insurance technology solutions like the FINEOS Platform can help insurance carriers remain agile and competitive when leave legislation is passed. Learn more about how a modern, integrated disability and absence management (IDAM) solution can help your organization adapt to sudden changes and remain in compliance and contact us.