Oregon parents-to-be, you're in luck—the state just passed a generous family leave law that will give new parents the right to paid time off upon welcoming their babies! This new development makes Oregon the eighth state to offer paid parental leave to its residents, following in the footsteps of states like Connecticut and Washington.
Oregon's law just may be the most generous of its kind: Under it, the state will pay low-income workers 100% of their wages during that 12-week window (benefits are capped at $1,215 a week).
This is groundbreaking and so important: Low-income workers are the ones who are hit hardest when taking time away from work, so knowing they'll have 100% of their wages coming in could make all the difference for workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck. Another amazing component at work here? This law also offers job protection for employees.
Under this law, Oregon residents will become entitled to 12 weeks of paid time off when they welcome a new baby. Victims of domestic violence, employees dealing with health issues and people who need to tend to ill relatives are eligible for this paid time off as well.
Contrary to popular belief, 12 weeks of paid maternity leave is not a guarantee for all U.S. employees. As Motherly has previously reported, the Family Medical Leave Act grants workers 12 weeks of unpaid time off when they have a baby, but not everyone qualifies for this. And the reality is, even among those who do qualify, many can't swing the finances of 12 weeks without pay.
Yes, some companies offer paid maternity leave to employees, but this is a privilege: About 88% of workers are ineligible for paid leave, so lots of moms are forced to choose between taking time off to heal from childbirth and bond with their new babies and making essential money. And as for dads? Well, paid paternity leave is certainly not the norm in the United States—and anyone who has ever had a baby knows how rough that can be. That's why it's so important to see states like Oregon grant its residents more generous policies.
According to The Huffington Post, this particular Oregon law was passed by the state Senate on Sunday, following the House's passing of the bill on June 20. On Monday afternoon, Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill into law.
"In 1991, as an advocate for the Women's Rights Coalition, I first began working on Paid Family Leave," she says in a statement, according to The Huffington Post. "Now, we can finally tell parents that they no longer will have to worry about losing their pay when they are having a baby or need to care for a loved one."
Just last week, Connecticut's governor signed a bill that was hailed as the most generous in the country as it covers 95% of a low-wage earner's pay. It is great to see states outdoing each other in a competition for the best paid leave plan.
Let's also talk about how inclusive Oregon's law is. These benefits extend to part-time workers as well as those with full-time jobs, and it also expands the definition of family members to include nontraditional family setups. Unlike so many leave policies, this one recognizes that all parents (not just birth mothers) deserve time off to care for their new babies.
This law represents an amazing step in the right direction for the state of Oregon—and we can only hope more states start adopting similar policies.