OR LAWlert: Oregon Employers Required to Provide Bereavement Leave

by Calvin Keith Oregon will become the first state in the nation to require employers to provide bereavement leave when House Bill 2950 takes effect January 1. The new law allows for bereavement leave under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA). The law applies to any employer with 25 or more employees in Oregon. Any employee of a covered employer who has been employed for more than 180 days at an average of 25 or more hours per week is entitled to take OFLA leave. An employee may take up to two weeks of bereavement leave within 60 days of the date on which she receives notice of the death of a family member. “Family member” is defined as the employee’s spouse; same-sex domestic partner; biological, adoptive, or foster parent, child, grandparent, or grandchild; parent-in-law; or a person with whom the employee was in an in loco parentis relationship. The law calls for employees to provide oral notice within 24 hours of the start of the leave, followed by written notice within three days after they return to work. Although the OFLA provides for a reduction of leave if an employee fails to give appropriate notice, bereavement leave may not be limited as a result of the failure to give appropriate notice. Leave days are a part of the 12 weeks of family leave to which employees are entitled under the OFLA. All of the rules for accounting for and accruing OFLA leave will apply. Employees may, if necessary, take multiple bereavement leaves during any OFLA year. Employers may require employees to use accrued vacation or paid sick leave during the bereavement leave. Calvin Keith is a partner in the Portland office of Perkins Coie.