Employers with operations in Oregon should ensure their policies and practices are in compliance with the state’s new employment laws going into effect on January 1, 2014. The new laws will affect the day-to-day operations of many businesses. 

Leave Entitlements

The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), Or. Rev. Stat. § 659A.150, requires employers with at least 25 employees to provide their workers with job-protected leave to care for themselves or family members for reasons of illness, injury, childbirth or adoption. An amendment to OFLA adds bereavement to the list of permitted purposes for leave. Eligible employees will be entitled to two weeks of leave for bereavement. Leave may be taken to attend the funeral (or an alternative to a funeral) of a family member (“family member” includes a son, daughter, grandchild, grandparent, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, and same-gender domestic partner), make arrangements necessitated by the death of a family member, or grieve the death of a family member. Bereavement leave must be completed within 60 days of the date on which the employee receives notice of the death of a family member. 

Oregon’s domestic violence leave law (Or. Rev. Stat. § 659A.270) will apply to all employees who are victims of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking, regardless of the number of hours worked per week or length of time worked for the employer. Previously, the law did not cover employees who worked fewer than 25 hours a week or had not been employed at least 180 days prior to seeking to take leave. For more information, please see Amendments to Oregon’s Domestic Violence Leave Law Extend Coverage to Part-Timers, New Employees.

A new sick leave ordinance in Portland imposes significant burdens on employers in addition to mandating up to 40 hours of annual sick leave. The new sick leave entitlements apply to all private-sector employers, regardless of location of the employer’s primary place of business. For more information, please see Portland, Oregon, Mandates Employer-Provided Sick Leave.

Social Media Access

An amendment to Or. Rev. Stat. § 659A prohibits employers from requiring or requesting employees or applicants for employment to disclose user names and passwords to provide access to personal social media accounts, add employers to social media contact lists, or allow employers to view an employee’s or applicant’s personal social media account. “Social media” is defined as “an electronic medium that allows users to create, share and view user-generated content, including, but not limited to, uploading or downloading videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant messages, electronic mail or Internet website profiles or locations.” However, employers may require employees to reveal user names and passwords to access non-personal social media accounts that apply to the employer’s internal information or computer systems. In addition, employers are permitted to access publicly available information regarding an employee or job applicant. 

Wage Payments

Or. Rev. Stat. § 652.110 now allows employers to pay wages by direct deposit, unless the employee makes an oral or written request to be paid by check. Previously, the employer was required to obtain the employee’s express agreement to pay by direct deposit. Express agreement is still required to pay by automated teller machine card, payroll card, or other means of electronic transfer. 

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Employers with operations in Oregon should prepare for these key changes going into effect on January 1, 2014. Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist employers in reviewing and updating their policies and practices to comply with changes in the law.