Oregon Becomes the Latest State to Pass Family and Medical Leave


Workers of Oregon, rejoice: The Oregon Senate has passed a House bill providing up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for workers. According to Oregon Live, the plan passed the Senate 21–6 on Sunday and is headed to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown, who is expected to sign it.

Twelve weeks of parental leave is still far less time than other countries around the world—the average of OECD countries is 18 weeks, according to Insider. But it is 12 weeks more than the previous number of zero, which is also the number that the United States as a whole requires. While the parental leave policy would be new, Oregon already has protections for sick leave: Employers with more than 10 employees have to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, and employers with less than 10 employees must allow workers to take that leave unpaid.

Several states have considered paid leave bills this year, and just a few weeks ago, Connecticut also adopted 12 weeks of paid family leave.

In addition to parental leave, the bill allows workers to use their 12 weeks per year for medical leave, or to deal with a domestic violence situation. Workers who earn less than the average Oregon weekly wage, currently $1,013, will receive wage replacement at 100 percent of their wages for medical leave, meaning workers who earn more than $52,676 per year will receive less than full pay when they use their leave.

Again, not great, much worse than other countries, but better than the status quo. Or, at least, it will be when the bill goes into effect in 2023.

The Oregon Senate recently made news when Senate Republicans literally went into hiding to kill a climate change bill, and succeeded. According to the New York Times, the Republicans “disappeared into Idaho cabins and motels with canned goods and at least one burner phone,” as if they were Walter White. (More like Walter Shite, if you ask me.)

The lack of paid leave for new parents is one of the many areas in which the United States is an absurd outlier—like healthcare, like guns, like prisons. With Trump in office and his daughter’s utterly laughable kinda-paid leave proposal being the closest Republicans can get to a policy on this, this kind of slow, state-by-state progress might be our best hope for now.

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