In a country with declining real wages and little in the way of paid (or even unpaid) leave time for many workers, it’s hard to get too upset about employees who want a little more personal or family time around the holidays. And according to some surveys, employees do call in sick more often around the holidays.
Unfortunately, as one employment law blogger has pointed out, there are many illness related reasons for missing work that aren’t covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, such as “My daughter has the flu.” But this example highlights one of the ways in which Oregon law provides greater protections for workers than federal law.
Under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), an eligible employee may take unpaid leave from work “[t]o care for a child of the employee who is suffering from an illness, injury or condition that is not a serious health condition but that requires home care.” ORS 659A.159(1)(d). Not all workplaces or employees in Oregon are covered by OFLA, but if you’re covered and your child has an illness or injury–such as the flu–that requires home care, you’re entitled to a certain amount of leave if you give the proper notice. Furthermore, it’s unlawful for an employer to penalize an employee for using such protected leave time. ORS 659A.183(2).
Of course, only an employment law attorney can tell you for sure if the facts of your situation qualify you for protected leave, and every case is different. But luckily our state protects the ability of workers to care for their seriously ill children, even if their children don’t end up in the hospital–and perhaps helping to keep them out of it in the first place.