Sep 13, 2023 - News

More than 14,000 apply for Oregon's paid family leave

Data: Oregon Employment Department. Chart: Axios Visuals. Note: Percentages are rounded and may not add up to 100%.

It's been a month since Oregonians have been able to apply for paid leave to take care of themselves or family members, and the first payments for approved applicants are landing this week.

The latest figures from the program show that 14,460 people applied from the opening date of Aug. 14 through Saturday, Sept. 9.

  • Of those, 29% of applications have been approved so far, according to state employment department statistics.

Of note: More applications than officials anticipated have come in for "safe leave," which is available to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment or stalking.

  • "Safe leave is a lot higher than we anticipated," program director Karen Madden Humelbaugh said in a briefing last week, but she noted that among the few states that have such leave, "we're the only ones with a pretty comprehensive package."

Context: Oregon is one of about a dozen states offering any kind of paid family leave, which is funded through a payroll tax employees and employers have been contributing to since the start of this year.

  • Paid time off to care for family members remains unavailable for most U.S. workers, although some members of Congress are seeking to change the current federally guaranteed unpaid family leave into a paid benefit.

The bottom line: More than $2 million in claims have been approved so far.

  • Weekly benefits, available for up to 12 weeks, run from $540 to $1,523. Minimum wage workers receive the equivalent of a full paycheck and the percentage goes down as income rises.
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