FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2019
The state will become the 9th place in the nation to pass paid family and medical leave
(Salem, OR) — Oregon is now the 9th place in the nation to offer a paid family and medical leave benefit, thanks to the Oregon Senate’s vote on House Bill 2005, the paid family and medical leave bill. The historic bill, which passed out of the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote more than a week ago, passed out of the Senate today with 21 votes out of 27.
House Bill 2005 is the most progressive paid family and medical leave legislation to be passed in the nation. Currently, only 15% of people have access to paid family leave through work. Time to Care Oregon, the coalition that has been working to pass paid family and medical leave since 2016, has focused on ensuring that the benefit be available to every Oregon worker. When benefits become accessible in 2023, about 1.5 million workers in Oregon will be covered by this common-sense insurance program.
Andrea Paluso, Executive Director of Family Forward, lead organization of the Time to Care Oregon coalition, had this to say about the bill’s passage: “Today we made history. After working for more than ten years to pass a paid leave policy, we finally passed a universal paid family and medical leave law that will impact every single family in Oregon. This could not have happened without the thousands of Oregonians who fought for this win, without the lawmakers who made this issue a priority, or without the more than 40 statewide organizations who worked tirelessly for years to ensure that every single worker in Oregon would be covered with paid and protected time away from work, so they can be with their families when they need them most.”
A 2019 survey of Oregon voters shows overwhelming support (72%) for paid family and medical leave insurance. The insurance program is popular with voters regardless of political party, gender, or age.
Dacia Grayber of Portland spoke of why families like hers need a paid family and medical leave insurance program: “My husband and I have been professional firefighters for nearly 25 and 15 years, respectively. After learning that he would be fighting a life-changing illness, to our dismay we discovered that as firefighters, we don’t have paid family and medical leave. I assumed that our terms of employment covered paid family leave; after all, we give everything in the line of service. I fear what our months to come will look like. How do I choose between keeping a paycheck coming in, or caring for my family in our darkest hour of need? The time is past due to bring paid family leave to our communities.”
Maggie Viveros of Salem also spoke to why paid family and medical leave insurance is so critical to families: “Just before my 16th birthday, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that caused me to be in and out of the hospital for a year. The stress, fear, and uncertainty that this chronic illness brought to my family was devastating. My mom, an agricultural worker earning minimum wage, easily used up her 40 hours of sick leave on my first visit to the hospital. The worst part of these hospital stays wasn’t the pain. It was the constant thought that my mother, the person keeping a roof over the heads of my 3 siblings and I, might lose her job and everything she’s worked for, just for being with me while I recuperate. When someone is dealing with a medical issue, all they should have to worry about is getting better. No one should have to worry about the consequences of missing work while they’re trying to care for their family.”
The insurance program will be administered by the State of Oregon and will provide up to 12 paid weeks away from work, with an additional two weeks for pregnancy-related conditions. It will be available to parents welcoming a new child into their family; adults needing to care for another family member, whether or not they are biologically related; or anyone needing to tend to their own health condition.
All Oregon workers will have access to paid family and medical leave insurance, regardless of the industry they work in; their employer size; or full- or part-time status. The program will provide full wage replacement for low-income workers and protect against workplace discrimination or retaliation for using the benefit. Oregon’s paid family and medical leave law will include those workers who are currently excluded from other current federal and state leave laws.
House Bill 2005 now advances to the Governor’s desk where it will be signed into law.
About Time to Care Oregon
Established in 2016, Time to Care Oregon is a coalition of community advocacy groups, labor organizations, public health organizations, senior groups, children’s groups and more. The coalition is working to pass paid family and medical leave during Oregon’s 2019 Legislative Session. Learn more at www.TimeforOregon.org.