SALEM, Ore. — As many parents struggle to balance work and facilitating remote learning for their kids, the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI) has issued a reminder that parents can take protected leave from work if needed.
The Oregon Family Leave Act, passed last year, guarantees protected leave for parents to care for their children. BOLI says that this law will apply for parents who need to help their children learn remotely.
“Parenting in a pandemic while working is an unexpected challenge that so many people are facing,” says Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle. “This burden is unsustainable. Parents – you should know that you can take protected time off of work to help your kids through distance learning or take care of them if your childcare provider is closed.”
While Oregon Family Leave does promise paid leave in some circumstances, staying home for distance learning does not guarantee pay.
BOLI says that parents can take up to 12 weeks of "sick child leave" per year. Oregonians can use banked sick or vacation time during that leave, but it is otherwise unpaid.
Nonetheless, the law protects workers from losing their job if taking this leave, and requires that employers keep providing the same healthcare benefits. You must be "returned to your old job or a similar position if your job doesn't exist anymore."
Sick child leave can be taken intermittently, so that parents can break up the time weekly or monthly instead of taking it all at once.
BOLI Commissioner Hoyle issued an emergency rule in March to apply sick child leave for distance learning, and it was codified as a permanent rule this month.
"We are in this together for the long haul,” Hoyle said.
To be eligible, you must have worked an average of 25 hours per week for 180 days and your employer must have at least 25 employees.
How do I use Oregon Family Leave (OFLA) protected time off?
- Give your employer notice that you will be taking Oregon Family Leave. You are required to give written notice 30 days in advance of taking time off, unless it is impractical to do so or if the leave is taken for an emergency.
- Take your time off, either in a chunk or intermittently.
- Use any paid time you have accrued if you want to, otherwise this time is likely unpaid. Your employer can require you to use paid time you have while on OFLA leave.
- You should be prepared to provide: the name of the child/children you are caring for, the name of the school or childcare provider that has closed or become unavailable, a statement affirming that no other family member is willing and able to care for the child. If you will be caring for a child older than 14 during daylight hours, a statement that special circumstances exist requiring the you to provide care.