Regardless of whether an employer elects to go with a private employer Equivalent Plan or with the state administered plan, all employers must register a new account with Frances Online, the web portal used for filing Quarterly Payroll Wage Reports, Unemployment Claims and Oregon Paid Leave Benefits (including the Declaration of Intent, Equivalent Plan Applications, and Claims). Each Business Identification Number (BIN) associated with an employer must have its own separate account.

If your business is considering a private plan, now is the time to explore your options.

Steps employers should follow if electing to go private:

Under the OR PFML program, a private employer Equivalent Plan must provide employees with PFML benefits equal to or greater than those provided by the State program. Additionally, an employer with an approved Equivalent Plan will not be required to pay the mandated contributions to the state for the OR PFML program. However, to implement and administer an Equivalent Plan, certain steps must be taken by the employer to ensure their private plan is approved by the state.

In order for a covered Oregon employer to elect a private OR PFML plan, they must notify the state of their intent and seek an Equivalent Plan approval by the required deadlines. 

Next steps:

  1. Submit a Declaration of Intent with the state prior to November 30, 2022
  2. File their private Equivalent Plan application with the state by the required deadlines.

Failure to properly follow protocols can result in delays in private employer Equivalent Plan approval or even denial of the private employer Equivalent Plan. For more details, see below or visit the state website.

Declaration of Intent

Filing the Declaration of Intent is an important first step that employers must take if electing to go with a private employer Equivalent Plan. This must be done through the Frances Online portal. It is a simple attestation (e.g. no carrier information required) that the employer makes indicating that they plan to have a private Equivalent Plan in place by September 3rd, 2023, and there is no fee attached to filing a Declaration of Intent.

An important implication of submitting the Declaration of Intent is that it absolves the employer from submitting OR PFML contributions to the state on January 1, 2023. However, employers going with a private Equivalent Plan still must collect the employees share of the contributions starting January 1st, 2023 and hold them in a separate account until their private Equivalent Plan is approved by the state, at which time those monies may be returned.

From an employer perspective, the Declaration of Intent also extends their deadline to file the private Equivalent Plan application to May 31st, 2023. If the private Equivalent Plan application is not filed before then, employers are required to submit both the employees’ and the employers share of the contributions to the state retro to January 1, 2023.

Filing Private Equivalent Plan Application

Each employer wishing to go with a private plan must file a private Equivalent Plan application with the state. This must be done through the Frances Online portal. The application fee is $250 per application, and separate applications are required for each BIN an employer has associated with it.

The deadline to file to avoid having to remit any contributions to the state or collect from employees and place in a separate account starting January 1st, 2023 is November 30th, 2022.

However, part of the filing process requires the employer to upload a copy of a state approved private Equivalent Plan policy/template from the carrier to complete application. At this time, Oregon has not yet released filing guidance for insurance carriers so that they could begin filing their OR PFML fully insured private Equivalent Plans with the state for approval.

Accordingly, it would be premature for any employer to submit their private Equivalent Plan application to the state, and employers are best served by filing their Declaration of Intent with the state and waiting on further instructions from Guardian on the private Equivalent Plan application once Guardian’s OR PFML fully insured product has been filed and approved by the state.

What do I need to know about state contributions?

A big milestone for the OR PFML program is the commencement of contributions on January 1, 2023. Requirements for submitting contributions will depend on whether an employer is going with the state administered plan or a private Equivalent Plan, and if going with a private Equivalent Plan, whether or not the employer has submitted their Declaration of Intent prior to January 1, 2023.

An employer with twenty-five or more total employees, who chooses not to offer a private Equivalent Plan, who chooses to offer a private Equivalent Plan but did not file their Declaration of Intent with the state, or whose plan does not get approved, will be required to remit contributions to the OR PFML program beginning January 1, 2023.

  • State contribution rate is set by the Director of OR Employment Department.
  • The total combined rate for employer and employee contributions for 2023 is set at 1.0% of employee’s wages, up to a taxable wage base of $132,900, which is subject to change annually. Rate is subject to change annually as well but cannot exceed 1.0% of employee’s wages.
  • Shared Cost – 60% Employee Paid; 40% Employer Paid
  • Under the state program, employers with fewer than 25 total employees (based on entire employee population, including employees located outside of Oregon) are not required to pay the employer share of the premium but must forward the employees’ premium share to the OR PFML program. However, employers who elect to pay the employer contribution may be eligible to apply for grants from the state to assist with certain costs related to the program.

More details on the nuts and bolts of Oregon’s PFML program can be found at the Paid Leave Oregon website.

What is Guardian doing?

Guardian will be offering a fully insured private plan option for OR PFML coverage, effective September 3rd, 2023.  You can count on:

  • Dedicated support to file a private plan exemption with the state.
  • Assistance with adjusting Short Term Disability (STD) and Long Term Disability (LTD) plan designs to integrate with a PFML plan.
  • A single point-of-contact for disability and/or paid leave claims inquiries.
  • Experienced claims management by tenured professionals, including safe and effective return to work support.
  • Updates on new regulations and ongoing guidance to keep you compliant.

We are actively collaborating with the state of Oregon, monitoring all developments as they become available. We help keep our customers and brokers informed every step of the way. To learn more, visit our Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave website.

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Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. Guardian does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic. 

Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.

The State of Oregon Employment Department is currently developing its PFML regulations, including specifics on how its program will be implemented. Leave and wage replacement benefits available to eligible Oregon workers is currently scheduled to commence on September 3, 2023. All terms of coverage, including benefits, eligibility, coverage limitations and exclusions under Guardian’s Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave plan (OR PFML) will comply with OR PFML law and regulation. Any optional riders and/or features which may be available may incur additional costs. If there is a discrepancy between this document and the Certificate/Group Policy issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, the Group Policy will govern.

Guardian® is a registered trademark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® ©Copyright 2022 The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, N.Y.  All rights reserved.

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