To be exempt from collecting and remitting contribution payments beginning on January 1, 2023 to Paid Leave Oregon, Oregon’s new paid family medical leave program, employers must submit by November 30, 2022 either an Equivalent Plan Application that meets the requirements for Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance (PFMLI) covering all Oregon employees or a Declaration of Intent certifying that they will submit an Equivalent Plan Application for approval no later than May 31, 2023. If an employer does not then submit the application by the May 31 deadline, then they will be responsible for retroactively paying all required contributions from January 1, 2023.
As a quick refresher, Oregon’s PFMLI program is a broad paid family and medical leave system funded by employer and employee contributions in the form of payroll deductions beginning January 1, 2023 and will provide employees with up to 12 weeks of paid time off for leave that qualifies as family, medical, or safe leave, absent an employer’s establishing that providing such leave would pose an undue hardship, beginning on September 3, 2023. Employers that provide paid leave benefits that are equal to or greater than those provided by PFMLI, and employees working for such an employer (that is, an employer that sponsors such an equivalent or better paid leave plan), do not have to pay contributions to the PFMLI program. Equivalent plans may be either employer-administered, for which the employer assumes all financial risk associated with the benefits and administration of the plan, or fully insured, wherein the employer purchases an insurance policy from an approved insurer and the benefits are administered by the insurance carrier pursuant to the terms of the policy. The Oregon Employment Department (OED) must approve an employer’s equivalent plan.
If an employer does not meet the November 30 deadline to submit either an Equivalent Plan Application or a Declaration of Intent, the company can still submit an Equivalent Plan Application after the deadline, but they will need to collect and pay employee and employer contributions to Paid Leave Oregon beginning January 1, 2023 until their plan is approved through OED. For example, if an employer submits an application after November 30, 2022, but before February 28, 2023, if the plan is approved, the employer will be exempt from submitting contributions to the state-funded plans beginning on April 1, 2023.
To submit an equivalent plan application, employers can apply online through the OED’s Frances Online system, or download and print an application and submit via mail. The application fee is $250. The OED has up to 30 days to issue a decision on whether an application plan is approved.
Employers should consult the OED’s Equivalent Plan Guidebook for additional details.