Oregon Passes Bereavement Leave Law

Oregon employers of a certain size will be required to provide eligible employees with unpaid bereavement leave.

As of January 1, 2014, Oregon employers of a certain size will be required to provide eligible employees with unpaid bereavement leave. Oregon is the first state to pass such a law. In all other states, employers may, but are not required to, provide employees with leave when a loved one passes away.

The new law amends the existing Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees for certain family and medical reasons. Here are some of the details:

  • Covered employers. Employers with 25 or more employees who are subject to the OFLA will be affected by this new law.
  • Eligible employees. Employees who are eligible for leave under the OFLA will be entitled to use a portion of that leave for bereavement purposes. Employees are eligible for OFLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 180 days and have worked an average of 25 hours per week.
  • Length of leave. Employees may take up to two weeks of leave per death of a covered family member, up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period.
  • Family members. A covered “family member” includes the employee’s spouse, same-sex domestic partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, and parent-in-law.
  • Timing and purpose of leave. Bereavement leave must be taken within 60 days of learning of the death of a family member. Leave may be taken to grieve, to make funeral arrangements, and to attend a funeral or memorial service.
  • Notice. Employees must give oral notice within 24 hours of taking bereavement leave. Upon returning to work, the employee must provide written notice explaining the reason for the leave. An employee’s failure to give proper notice does not give the employer the right to delay or reduce the leave taken by the employee.