Maternal Health

FILE - A doctor uses a hand-held Doppler probe on a pregnant woman to measure the heartbeat of the fetus on Dec. 17, 2021, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

(The Center Square) - Beaver State residents begin erecting a dam against life's injurious rapids this year, with a paid medical and parental leave program going into effect at the beginning of January. Program benefits will not pay out until September 3rd, however, as the program will need time to accumulate funds to disperse.

Oregon employees will begin seeing 0.6% of their paychecks turned over to the program, which will allow for up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave, with those experiencing pregnancy or childbirth-related issues eligible for up to 14 weeks. Employers will likewise contribute to the program with a 0.4% contribution, up to a salary of $132,900.

With this move, Oregon joins neighbor Washington, which has already instituted paid family leave (PFL), a dozen other states (including Colorado), and the nation's capital.

Much like unemployment benefits, higher-earners will see a cap on their ability to procure purchasing power from the program:

"The amount an employee gets paid while on leave will depend on how much the employee has earned," explains Paid Leave Oregon spokesperson Angela Yeager. "Lower-wage earners will receive 100% of their paycheck, while higher-wage earners will receive a portion." Additionally, as reported by KOIN, "Minimum wage workers will receive 100% of their average wage while on leave."

Companies with fewer than 25 employees are exempt from the new paid leave mandate, but can opt to pay in anyway. However, it is mandatory that they collect the 0.6% PFL contribution from employees. Independent contractors - as well as tribal governments - are exempt from paying into Oregon's PFL, but likewise unable to collect any benefits. (There is however a way of opting in if one so chooses, according to Paid Leave Oregon.)

Paid Leave Oregon provides an "employee toolkit" for businesses attempting to navigate the state's new law, which even includes suggested ways of promoting or discussing PFL on social media, with priority given to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The program will cover the birth of a child, adoption, foster care placements, caring for a family member or yourself in cases of serious injury or illness, and for survivors of sexual assaults, domestic violence, harassment or stalking.