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Oregon Now Requires Military Family Leave

July 28, 2009


On June 25, 2009, the Oregon Military Family Leave Act (“OMFLA”) went into effect, requiring all public, private, and not-for-profit employers of 25 or more employees in Oregon to provide up to 14 days of unpaid leave to “eligible” employees who are spouses of members of the armed forces during periods of military conflict.

Eligibility and Notice: OMFLA provides leave rights to eligible employees whose military spouses face an “impending call or order to active duty or a leave from deployment.” To be eligible, an employee must work for the employer for an average of at least 20 hours per week. The employee must notify the employer of his/her intention to take OMFLA leave within five business days of receiving official notice of an impending call or order to active duty or of a leave from deployment. Employers may not deny OMFLA leave to an eligible employee.

It should be noted that not all employees eligible for OMFLA leave are eligible for OFLA leave because OFLA requires that an employee has worked for the employer an average of 25 hours per week for the preceding 180 days. There is no such longevity requirement under OMFLA.

Benefits and Compensation: During OMFLA leave an employee is entitled to a continuation of employment benefits. Additionally, although OMFLA leave is unpaid, an employee may elect to use accrued paid time off simultaneously.

Reinstatement and No Retaliation: Upon completion of OMFLA leave, an employer must restore its employee to employment in the position held at the beginning of leave. Further, an employer may not retaliate or discriminate against an employee who has requested or taken OMFLA leave.

Coordination with Other Leave Laws: The 14 days of OMFLA leave are included in (not in addition to) the 12 weeks of family leave that are available under Oregon’s Family Leave Act. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries is currently drafting rules to provide more guidance on the implementation of the Act and its interaction with military leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Washington’s Military Family Leave Act: Washington enacted similar legislation in 2008, called the Washington State Military Family Leave Act (RCW 49.77). It provides up to 15 days of unpaid leave either before or after the employee’s military spouse is deployed or while the military spouse is on leave from deployment during a period of conflict. Washington’s Act also increases the amount of unpaid leave time available to members of the Washington National Guard or Reserves from 15 days to 21 days.

Please also feel free to contact Bullard Law for more information regarding the OMFLA, other military or family leave laws, or any other labor, employment and benefits issues.

- Devra S. Hermosilla