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Employment Department Says Deadline For Paid Family Leave Program ‘Not Achievable’

Chris Lehman

The Oregon Employment Department says it won’t be able to roll out a new program for paid family leave in time to meet a legislative deadline.


Lawmakers approved the program that will offer Oregon workers paid family or medical leave. The benefits were to begin in January 2023, and will be administered by the Oregon Employment Department.


The agency’s acting director, David Gerstenfeld, said the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the rollout. “That obviously slowed down our progress on implementing the program,” he told the House Rules Committee on May 20.

The agency supports a bill ithat would postpone the debut of the program by eight months.


Rep. Marty Wilde, D-Eugene, criticized the department for waiting this long to sound the alarm.

“Why was the bill not introduced sooner?" he said. "Why did the department wait until there were only six weeks of session left to deal with this very important matter?”

Gerstenfeld responded that the department wanted to figure out what timeline it could realistically meet before asking lawmakers to change the deadline.


The committee did not immediately act on the bill Thursday, but could take it up at any time before the end of the legislative session.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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