Oregon’s New Public Health Emergency Declaration and OFLA Eligibility: What Employers Need to Know

By Lauren Russell

This fall’s concerning spread of pediatric respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza, and the related strain on hospital capacity, prompted Oregon Governor Kate Brown to issue Executive Order No. 22-23, declaring a public health emergency on November 14, 2022. This declaration remains in effect for sixteen weeks, until March 6, 2023, unless the governor extends or terminates it earlier. Oregon’s previous public health emergency declaration for COVID-19 was lifted April 1, 2022.

This emergency declaration implicates COVID-related amendments to the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) that became effective on January 1, 2022. Those amendments provide that any time there is a declared public health emergency, employees may become eligible for OFLA leave for any OFLA-qualifying reason if they have been employed for 30 days (rather than the typical 180 days) and if they have worked an average of 25 hours a week in the 30 days immediately preceding the leave. The amendments also expanded the qualifying reasons for taking OFLA leave to include caring for a child “who requires home care due to the closure of the child’s school or child care provider as a result of a public health emergency.”

For example, employees with children whose childcare center is closed in connection with an RSV and/or influenza outbreak may be eligible for OFLA leave pursuant to the declared public health emergency (so long as the employees otherwise qualify for leave).

For assistance in navigating an employer’s OFLA responsibilities or any other employment-law related matter, contact a member of Dunn Carney’s Employment Law Group.