I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you enjoyed being around friends and family!

It’s a busy Holiday Season and I’d like to share some timely information with you.

RSV Emergency Declaration Triggers Protections Under Oregon’s Mini-FMLA Oregon’s governor declared a public health emergency November 14, 2022, in response to an increase in pediatric cases of RSV. The declaration will remain in effect through March 6, 2023, unless it is extended or terminated earlier by the governor. In January 2022, changes to Oregon’s Family Leave Act (OFLA) went into effect that defined a public health emergency and expanded sick child leave. The amendments clarified that a “public health emergency” requires a proclamation by the governor to protect public health. Sick child leave, under OFLA, is leave requiring home care (such that you might see with RSV, cold, flu, etc.), but that does meet the definition of a serious health condition. The amendments expanded “sick child leave” to include the need to provide home care due to the closure of the child’s school or childcare provider due to a public health emergency and includes requirements for verification of a school closure. The amendments also changed the OFLA so that Oregon employers must provide sick child leave to eligible Oregon employees after just 30 days of employment, rather than 180, if the employee has worked an average of 25 hours per work in the 30 days before taking leave during a public health emergency.

Possible Rail strike to impact business Much of the goods in the US travel by rail. Currently there are 12 railroad worker unions that represent about 115,000 workers. For several months they have been negotiating with the freight rail companies over a variety of things, two of which are paid sick leave and improved working conditions. Four of the 12 have approved their agreements with the freight rail companies, however to avoid the strike, all 12 must agree to the terms. Earlier today, President Biden asked Congress to block a rail worker strike. The economic impact of a rail strike would be catastrophic to the nation due to the amount of goods that travel by rail – gasoline, food, automobiles and other goods. A rail stoppage would freeze about 30% of shipments and increase already high inflation. It could cost the economy $2B per day. The US Chamber has prepared this short article here: https://www.uschamber.com/security/supply-chain/how-a-national-rail-shutdown-will-impact-consumers?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=&utm_term=Post-Election+Sidles%2c+November+Economic+Slides+and+More&utm_content=11/11/2022 and this article from the Association of American Railroads on how much travels by rail and industries that could be impacted: https://www.aar.org/economic-impact-of-railroad-shutdown. News outlets have posted these articles too: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/us-house-to-vote-wednesday-to-block-rail-strike/ar-AA14HEnd and this article has a timeline of how we arrived at this place: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/devastating-rail-strike-looms-how-us-workers-companies-got-here/ar-AA14HuBM. The uncertainty lies with whether the Senate will pass the deal brokered by the White House – they need 60 votes in an equally divided chamber. The strike deadline is December 9th.

Ready.gov is a resource for anyone seeking information on how to prepare, respond to and mitigate emergencies including natural and manmade disasters. Users can view information on disasters, and emergencies, fill out an planning form and see a sample emergency supply list. You can also check out what Yamhill Emergency Management has on their website here: https://www.co.yamhill.or.us/emergency-management where you can sign up for emergency notifications and learn about community preparedness.

The Oregon Legislature’s Legislative Committee Days are December 7-9th During these days, committees hold informational hearings on topics that may lead to legislation in upcoming sessions, hear updates and reports from state agencies and task forces and learn about issues impacting Oregonians. The Senate may also convene to confirm any Governor executive appointees. The deadline to file bills by legislators is December 21st – And did you know YOU, an ordinary citizen can request a bill be filed? Learn more about how a bill becomes law here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/capitolhistorygateway/Documents/How%20A%20Bill%20Becomes%20Law.pdf and how an idea becomes a law: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Pages/How-an-Idea-Becomes-Law.aspx. And there is always my favorite Schoolhouse Rock to share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6MinvU93kI.

The Oregon Employment Department issued a permanent Administrative Order Paid Leave Oregon is a new program that allows workers in Oregon to take paid time off for some of life’s most important moments that impact our families, health, and safety. Paid Leave Oregon has adopted 17 permanent rules to guide the Paid Leave Oregon appeal process. The department filed a permanent administrative order for this rulemaking with the Secretary of State’s Office, November 23, 2022. These administrative rules cover topics such as how to request a hearing, how to request an interpreter, what is included in a notice of hearing, how to submit an appeal if late, and how the Office of Administrative Hearings will conduct a hearing. If you need assistance with understanding the new rules or would like to learn about future rulemaking, you can contact OED at Rules@employ.oregon.gov.

Paid Leave Oregon also has updated the rules to determining employer size. The Oregon Employment Department has published a Temporary Administrative Order changing the way Paid Leave Oregon counts employees to determine employer size. These temporary rules will be in place until the Permanent Administrative Rules are amended. Previously, an employer’s size was calculated by averaging the employee count over four quarters. Now, an employer’s size will be determined by the employer’s average number of employees on the 12th of each month for the previous 12 months. The employee count will still include the number of employees in Oregon and the number of out-of-state employees; replacement employees hired to temporarily replace employees out on Paid Leave Oregon are not included. The definition of large and small employer will not change. Employers with 25 or more employees will still be considered large and will be required to pay the employer contribution; employers with less than 25 employees will still be considered small and will not be required to pay the employer contribution.

DON’T FORGET plan to join us Wednesday December 8th from 4-6pm at the Chamber office (319 NE 5th Street ) for a cup of cheer, connection and comestibles.

Warmest regards for the holiday season!