PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The next paycheck Oregonians receive after January 1, 2023 will have a slight deduction. 

That’s because Oregon workers will begin making required contributions to the new Paid Leave Oregon program at the start of the year. Lawmakers passed the program in 2019 and it goes into effect in 2023. 

Starting January 1, almost all employees in the state will have part of their paycheck put toward funding the program. Anyone who is eligible for the program cannot opt-out to stop the contributions from coming out of their paychecks. 

The only people who aren’t eligible are Tribal governments, self-employed business owners and independent contractors. Individuals who are self-employed or independent contractors are not automatically covered, but can choose coverage.

The contribution system works slightly differently for small employers and large employers. Large employers who have 25 or more employees will be required to make a total contribution of 1% of gross payroll. Employees will pay 60% and large employers will pay 40% of the 1% contribution rate. 

For example, if an employee makes $5,000, the employee will pay $30 and the employer will pay $20. 

A small employer, one with fewer than 25 employees, is not required to pick up 40% of the 1% contribution rate. However, their employees are still required to pay 60% of the 1% contribution rate. 

“The Paid Leave Oregon program is a combined contribution and so the business is going to pay 40% of the contribution and the individual worker pays 60% of the contribution,” said Karen Humelbaugh, the director of Paid Leave Oregon.

The benefits an employee is eligible for are the same whether they work for a small or large employer. 

Paid Leave Oregon will allow employees in the state to take up to 12 weeks off from work in a year. In some pregnancy-related situations, an employee may be able to take up to an additional two weeks off, for a total of 14 weeks. 

Employees can take weeks at a time or a single day if they need it. The leave can be used for family events – things like the birth of a child, adoption, or caring for a family member with a serious injury or illness; medical leave – to care for yourself when you have a serious illness or injury; or safe leave – for survivors of sexual assaults, domestic violence, harassment or stalking.

“It’s actually paid leave while you’re taking the time off and your job is protected. And so that in and of itself makes it innovative. But I would also share that our safe leave component is really critical. It is unique to Oregon,” Humelbaugh said.

Although contributions to the program start January 1, employees will not be able to take advantage of the paid leave benefits until September 2023. This will allow the plan to accumulate funds that can be paid out when an employee needs to take leave. 

Minimum wage workers will receive 100% of their average wage while on leave. People who make more than minimum wage will receive benefits based on a sliding scale. 

Paid Leave Oregon plans to have a benefits calculator posted on its website in the next few months. 

Most employees in Oregon will be covered, with the exception of federal government employees. 

There is more information online about how Paid Leave Oregon compares to other programs like the Oregon Family Leave Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Oregon Sick Leave. 

The bill that enacted Paid Leave Oregon requires the state to re-evaluate its contribution rate every year. If that contribution amount results in a surplus in the trust fund that’s used to pay out benefits, state officials could decide to lower the rate in future years. 

“We’re starting to get closer and closer to being able to provide benefits to Oregonians who really need that paid time off for life’s most important moments,” Humelbaugh said.