'This is good for all Oregonians': Proposal calls for paid parental, medical leave

Legislators are considering a bill that would revolutionize family and medical leave in Oregon. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - This session, legislators are considering a bill that would revolutionize family and medical leave in Oregon.

House Bill 3087 calls for employees to still get paid 90 percent of their salary for up to 12 weeks while they're gone.

The money would come from a half-percent payroll tax that goes straight to a statewide insurance fund.

"Not everyone should have to win the boss lottery in order to be able to be home and to bond with their newborn," Emily Yates-Pollard said.

She he got lucky with 12 weeks paid time off when her son was born, but that wasn't the case for her partner.

"She was able to take a week unpaid and then had to go back to work so was not able to be home to support our family through that transition," Yates-Pollard said.

She said it came down to money: they couldn't afford the time at home without pay.

At the same time, many companies can't afford to pay someone who's not at work.

Sabrina Parsons, the CEO of Palo Alto Software, says luckily her company can.

"For our company, we really try to work with employees and make sure that we have policies that do pay employees, but not everybody does," Parsons said.

Palo Alto Software works with small businesses and start-ups, so they see clients who face this problem all the time.

"A lot of them want to offer paid time off and try to figure out financially how they can do it," Parsons said.

But it's not easy to do and she says there's no avoiding it: "If your child is sick you're not going to come to work. If you have cancer you're not going to come to work. That's the reality."

She wants Oregon to lead the charge of change.

"If we can pave the path and show other states that this works and that this is good for all Oregonians - employers, employees, small businesses, cities, communities - that would be a really big thing," Parsons said.

Because if there's one thing you can always expect, it's the unexpected.

"While you may think this doesn't affect you, it could at any point in time and you're not going to realize how important that time is until you're living it," Yates-Pollard said.

The bill is still in committee; there's going to be another work session on the Paid Family Medical and Leave Policy next week.

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