Oregon requires forward-looking leave year tracking method for PLO and OFLA leave

Oregon has passed groundbreaking leave laws that are creating a great deal of confusion for HR professionals, employers, and even employment law professionals. With the signing of Senate Bill 999 (SB 999) by Governor Kotek on June 7, 2023, one of the unique requirements is the adoption of a uniform method for calculating employee leave year balances for Oregon employers. Under this bill, Oregon employers subject to Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) and Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) will be required to use the 12-month rolling forward method for calculating employee leave balances effective September 3, 2023, for PLO and July 1, 2024, for OFLA. Employers are encouraged to understand how this will impact leave administration and proactively make decisions best for their organization.

What is a 12-month rolling forward leave year?

With the 12-month rolling forward method, the leave year is measured forward from the date of the employee’s first leave usage. Under PLO, the leave period runs for 52 consecutive weeks, beginning on the Sunday immediately preceding the date for which the qualifying leave begins.

Example: For an employee starting leave on Monday, July 1, 2024, the “leave year” would start on Sunday, June 30, 2024, and the employee would be eligible for 12+ weeks of PLO leave between Sunday, June 30, 2024, and Saturday, June 28, 2025.

Update your leave policies

Organizations are using this as an opportunity to proactively update their leave policies and employee handbooks for a full-scale switch to the 12-month rolling forward method of calculating leave years to prepare for the PLO and OFLA requirements.

Adopting a new leave-tracking method

If you have been using a different method for tracking employee leave years, this transition to the rolling forward method may seem complicated. The bottom line: Employers must give employees 60 days’ notice before adopting the new method and ensure employees retain the full leave and job protection entitlements under whichever method affords the most generous benefit.

When adopting a new leave tracking method, employers should:

  1. Perform an analysis of their current active leaves.
  2. Determine the entitlements under the current leave tracking method and the proposed leave tracking method.
  3. Select the method that retains the most benefit for leave hours and job protection entitlements.
  4. Plan a communication rollout and arrange support and resource meetings for staff who may have questions about how the change will impact their leave.

Decide how broadly you will apply the rolling forward method

Oregon employers must change to the rolling forward method for PLO and OFLA.

Multi-state employers need to decide how broadly they will apply the rolling forward leave tracking method outside of PLO and OFLA leave. While it may be administratively less cumbersome to use the forward-looking method for all employees as a matter of consistency, it may not be advantageous with employees outside of Oregon, depending on their specific circumstances.

Example, employees experiencing a chronic condition that necessitates intermittent leave may be able to stack their leave in the forward-looking method. If an employer’s policies intend to limit stacking, they could apply the rolling backward method for employees outside of Oregon who are not subject to SB 999.

Some organizations may employ team members in a state that requires the use of a different leave-tracking system. Wisconsin, for example, requires the use of the calendar year method for tracking employee leave. Employers with workers in both Oregon and Wisconsin will therefore be required to use different methods for tracking employee leave for different states.

Transitioning to a 12-month rolling forward leave year

Below, we will provide general options for transitioning to a rolling forward tracking method, but please note we recommend performing an analysis on a case-by-case basis for each active leave.

Calendar year

If you have been using the calendar year method and have employees who have taken leave within the current calendar year, we recommend continuing to use the calendar year method for them through the current year and then reset the employees’ balance the first January following the transition. From that point forward, you will use the rolling forward method for those employees even though they have taken leave within the past 12 months.

If an employee took leave in the previous calendar year, the employee’s leave balance will have already been reset when you transition. Begin calculating with the rolling forward method from the date their next leave begins, even if they took leave within the past 12 months.

Fixed 12-month period

If you have been using the fixed 12-month method and have employees who have taken leave within the current fixed 12-month period, continue using that method for them through the current fixed year and reset the employees’ balance on the month following the transition. From that point forward, use the rolling forward method for those employees even though they may have taken leave within the past 12 months.

If an employee took leave in the previous fixed year, the employee’s leave balance will have already been reset when you transition. Begin calculating with the rolling forward method from the date their next leave begins, even if they took leave within the past 12 months.

Rolling backward

If you have been using the 12-month rolling backward method, there really isn’t a way to equitably reconcile available leave to the rolling forward method so it may be necessary to reset all employees’ leave balances at the time of the transition, regardless of whether they have taken leave in the last 12 months. Unfortunately, this does enable employees to stack leave if they have taken leave recently.

Alternatively, you may reset everyone’s leave balance when you begin using the rolling forward method, regardless of how you previously tracked leave. However, it is important to note this may enable some employees to stack a considerable amount of leave.

What does this mean for Stiira users?

In short, we have Oregon employers covered. In our latest set of feature updates, we incorporated new functionality to support this new leave year requirement. Our customers have the option to establish a rolling forward leave year for all leaves designated under PLO and OFLA, with built-in logic to ensure usage is accurately tracked and associated hour banks follow the correct renewal period.