Employer Insights

Oregon Labor Laws - The Complete Guide for 2020 / 2021

by Scott Herson-Hord, on Apr 28, 2021 9:21:00 AM

In addition to the federal labor laws companies must comply with, Oregon has its own set of labor laws that govern working conditions and compensation management laws. Oregon labor laws cover a wide variety of employment situations including discrimination, pay, leave, breaks, workplace safety, and payroll taxes.

Unless you're a larger company (and even still), you may want to leverage an Oregon payroll & HR service company like GNSA to help with understanding and complying with the state's labor laws that follow and assist with establishing policies, processes, and software to stay compliant with legislation.

Oregon Discrimination Laws

Harassment and Discrimination Policy

The Oregon Workplace Fairness Act (OWFA), effective October 1, 2020, requires all Oregon employers to have a written harassment and discrimination policy containing procedures and practices for the reduction and prevention of discrimination against individuals which fall under Oregon’s protected categories. 

Protected categories are considered any of the following: 

  • Race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, age, expunged juvenile record, performance of duty in a uniformed service, or physical or mental disability. 

Policies created under OWFA must also:

  • Provide a process for reporting prohibited conduct and identify who in the organization is responsible, including at least one alternate, for intaking complaints
  • Describe the new five-year statute of limitations applicable to employee claims of prohibited conduct
  • State that the employer “may not require or coerce an employee to enter into a nondisclosure or nondisparagement agreement” and include an explanation of those terms as described under the OWFA
  • Explain that an employee claiming discrimination, harassment, or sexual assault may voluntarily request an agreement that provides for nondisparagement and nondisclosure language, and a no rehire provision, otherwise prohibited by the OWFA
  • Advise employers and employees to document any incidents involving conduct prohibited by Oregon discrimination law 

For ease-of-use Oregon has created a sample OWFA Policy for employers in both English and Spanish. 

Employers must make their OWFA policy available to every employee in the workplace. New employees must be given a copy of the policy at the time of hire. Also, any employee who complains of discrimination, harassment, or sexual assault must be given a copy of the policy.

Ban the Box

Under Oregon’s ban the box law it is unlawful for an employer to inquire about an applicant’s criminal conviction before the interview stage of hiring. Typically, criminal history is asked on a job application. If an interview is not conducted, an employer may not require applicants to disclose criminal conviction prior to the employer making a conditional job offer. 

The City of Portland employers must adhere to a stricter “ban the box” ordinance. Employers in Portland employers must wait until a conditional job offer has been made before inquiring about criminal histories. 

Oregon Pay & Compensation Laws 

Minimum Wage

Oregon has three minimum wages directed by geographic region. Note the correct wage an employer should pay depends on the employee’s work location. 

  • Non-urban Counties minimum wage is $11.50 per hour.
  • Standard Counties minimum wage is $12.00 per hour. 
  • Portland Metro Area minimum wage is $13.25 per hour. 
  • For employees who travel for work or work in more than one type of location;
    • The minimum wage is the wage of the county where the employee works 50% or more of their working hours per week. 
    • Employers may also choose to pay the minimum wage for each county where an employee works.

Oregon’s minimum wage has an increases scheduled every year on July 1st through 2023:

Date

Standard Counties

Portland Metro Area

Nonurban Counties

July 1, 2019

$11.25

$12.50

$11.00

July 1, 2020

$12.00

$13.25

$11.50

July 1, 2021

$12.75

$14.00

$12.00

July 1, 2022

$13.50

$14.75

$12.50

July 1, 2023

Adjusted annually based on the increase, if any, to the US City average Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers

$1.25 over the standard minimum wage

$1 less than the standard minimum wage


If not covered in an Oregon labor law poster, you will need to post a Oregon minimum wage poster or notice in a common space in your workplace that can be made visible to all employees. 

Overtime

Most hourly employees in Oregon are entitled to overtime pay for any hour worked over a total of 40 hours in a single work week. A single work week is defined as any 7 consecutive workdays. Overtime pay is set at one and a half times an employee’s normal hourly wage. 

HR professionals must pay close attention that Oregon has special overtime rules, as well as payroll basics, for workers in packing plants, logging camps, canneries, mills, driers, and factories. Furthermore, a variety of people are exempted from overtime in Oregon, including those who work as fishermen, work for commission, or work in the computer industry and earn over $27.63 per hour.

Additional labor law prevents hospitals from requiring nurses to work over 12 hours a day or over 40 hours a week, although nurses can go over the limit if they choose to. There are no limits on how much overtime can be required from any other type of worker.

Oregon Equal Pay

Oregon employers are required to pay employee equal pay for equal work regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability or age. Equal pay may not be achieved by making pay cuts. If not included in a labor law poster, employers must post an updated Oregon Equal Pay Notice visible to employees in a common area. 

Paychecks

Oregon law requires that employers pay employees on a regular payday schedule which is not to be more than 35 days apart. In addition, employers may not withhold or delay a paycheck as a form of discipline or in exchange for the return of employer-owned items held by an employee.

Oregon Final Pay Rule

The specific rules and legal requirements for delivering the final paycheck to employees are as follows:

For employees who quit without providing 48 hours’ notice, excluding weekend and holidays, the final paycheck must be received within 5 business days or the next regular payday, whichever comes first.

For employees who quit and have provided 48 hours’ notice, the final paycheck must be received on an employee's last day of employment, unless that day is a weekend or holiday. If a weekend or holiday, the final paycheck is due the next business day.

For employees who are terminated by the employer OR employees who leave employment by mutual agreement, the final paycheck must be received by the end of the first business day after an employee leaves or is terminated by the organization.

Deductions from Final Pay

Final paychecks should include all earned wages that an employee has not yet received. An employer may make a deduction to final pay when (and only when):

  • It is legally required to do so (such as for taxes)
  • The employee has given written consent for the deduction and the deduction is not for the employer’s benefit (for example, for an employee savings plan)
  • The deduction is for a charitable donation
  • The deduction is related to dues for a labor organization
  • The deduction is related to repayments for a loan agreed between the employer and employee
  • The deduction is authorized by a collective bargaining agreement 

Oregon employers are not required to offer any vacation days to employees. However, when an employer does provide vacation as part of its employment contract, the final paycheck should include payment for the unused vacation an employee is entitled to receive. 

As the intersection of Human Resources and other departments are often blurred, especially in start-ups and smaller companies it is important for HR professionals in Oregon to remain vigilant with well-established employee handbooks and policies. This may include seeking outside compliance help and subscriptions to outside resources to assist in compliance and risk mitigation when it comes to Payroll and all of the processes incumbent to properly administering payroll within a company. 

Oregon Leave Law

Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA)

The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) mandates that an employer with 25 or more employees must allow employees to take up to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave if the employee has worked an average of 25 hours per week for the previous 180 days. 

Leave covered under OFLA:

  • Parental Leave either parent can take time off for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. 
  • Employee's Own Serious Health Condition or to care for a spouse, parent, parent-in-law, or child
  • Pregnancy Disability Leave before or after birth of child or for prenatal care. 
  • Sick Child Leave for the employee’s child with an illness or injury that requires home care but is not serious.
    • Employee’s child’s school or childcare provider is closed due to a statewide public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic school closures.
  • Military Family Leave up to 14 days if employee’s spouse is a service member who has been called to active duty or is on leave from active duty
  • Bereavement Leave up to 2 weeks of leave after the death of a spouse, same-gender domestic partner or custodial or non-custodial parent. 

During OFLA employers must continue to provide employees the same health insurance benefits when on leave as when at work. Additionally, employees must be returned to their former job or a similar position if the old job no longer exists.

In order to notify employees of their leave rights, an OFLA notice or posting must be made available. 

UPDATE (Pending): Oregon paid family leave will be made available in 2023. 

Oregon Sick Time

Oregon sick time law entitles employees to receive paid sick time if the employer has 10 or more employees. In Portland, employers must provide paid sick time if they have 6 or more employees. For any companies smaller than these, unpaid sick time is required. 

Employers need to provide 1-hour of sick for every 30 hours worked up to 40 hours per year. Employees may begin to take sick time after worked they have worked for their employer for 90 days. Employers must regularly inform employees the amount of sick time they have earned. 

Similarly to OFLA, employees must be notified of their rights, so a Oregon paid sick time poster or notice must be posted. 

Oregon Break Laws

Oregon law provides three breaks during the typical 8-hour work day, but the number of breaks required will vary based on time worked.

Rest and Meal Breaks

Oregon employers must provide an employer paid rest break of 10 minutes for every 4 hours of work in one work period.

Employers must also provide a non-paid meal break or lunch break of at least 30 minutes to employees who work 6 to 8 hours in one work period. A meal break is not required if the work period is less than 6 hours. Additional meal breaks are required to be provided to employees who works 14 hours or more in a shift.

Meal breaks or lunch breaks are only non-paid if the employee is relieved of all duties. If an employee performs any duties during a meal break the employer must pay the employee for the whole meal break. 

Here is a breakdown of required breaks for work periods with varying durations including and beyond the typical 8 hour shift or workday:

Shift Length

Rest Breaks

Meal Breaks

2 hours or less

0

0

2 hours 1 minute - 5 hours 59 minutes

1

0

6 hours

1

1

6 hours 1 minute - 10 hours

2

1

10 hours 1 minute - 13 hours 59 minutes

3

1

14 hours

3

2

14 hours 1 minute - 18 hours

4

2

18 hours 1 minute - 21 hours 59 minutes

5

2

22 hours

5

3

22 hours 1 minute - 24 hours

6

3

 

Express Milk Break 

Oregon employers are required to provide employees including hourly, salaried, and part-time, an appropriate / private location to express milk. This requirement lasts until the child is 18 months of age. Employers with 10 or fewer employees may assert an exemption if providing these breaks imposes an “undue hardship.”

For more information on required breaks or other Oregon Labor Laws regarding wages, leave, and other general employment conditions, you can reference ORS653 to see the legislation directly.

Oregon Workplace Safety Laws

Oregon Safe Employment Act

In 1973, Oregon enacted the Oregon Safe Employment Act, which seeks to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for employees who work in Oregon. The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) administers the Act and provides jurisdiction over private organizations and governments, local and state. As such, Oregon OSHA can inspect workplaces to ensure compliance.

Oregon OSHA provides a free OSHA poster for employers. 

Oregon Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence, Harassment, Sexual Assault & Stalking

Under Oregon Law employers may not discriminate in employment because an individual is a victim of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking.

Employers must also provide reasonable changes to support employees who experience domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking or are the parent or guardian of the victim. An employer’s reasonable changes include transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, unpaid leave, changed work number, changed workstation, installed lock, new safety procedure, or other adjustment after threatened or actual events. In addition, victims may have protective leave to find legal or law enforcement assistance, get metal treatment or mental health support, change living situation

Oregon Payroll Tax Laws

Oregon Transit Tax

On July 1, 2018, HB 2017, the Statewide Transit Tax (STT) went into effect, which requires all employers to withhold, report, and remit one-tenth of one percent (or 0.001%) of wages paid to employees. The STT is calculated based on the employee's wages as defined in ORS 316.162. Revenue from the STT goes into the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund to finance investments and improvements in public transportation services, except for those involving light rail.

TriMet Tax

The Mass-Transit (TriMet) Tax is paid by the employer to the Oregon Department of Revenue and helps fund mass transportation in the TriMet District. Employers can determine if they are located in the TriMet District by viewing the zip code boundary list. 

Effective January 1, 2021, the tax rate increased to 0.7837% of the wages paid by an employer and the net earnings from self-employment for services performed within the TriMet District boundary.

Oregon has specific labor laws that vary by geographic region and cover most employment situations. These labor laws were created to give guidance to the employer and to protect employees. Research and understanding the various labor laws will ensure employers' adherence to Oregon law and reduce payroll errors

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Guest Author: Scott Herson-Hord

Scott Herson-Hord Headshot-1Scott Herson-Hord is the CEO of Great Northern Staff Administrators (GNSA), an Oregon payroll services company that specializes in serving small to mid-size businesses with administrative solutions to streamline back-office processes from benefits to human resources. Starting his career in finance and working more than 10 years as a controller for various companies, Scott leveraged this experience over the next 22 years with GNSA to become one of the pacific northwest’s foremost experts in human capital management (HCM).

Topics:PayrollComplianceOregon Labor Laws

Did You Know...

Legislative updates have just gone into effect throughout the state requiring updates to minimum wage, equal pay, paid sick time, and family leave workplace notices / posters for employees. 

If your Oregon labor law posters have not been replaced as of the July 1st, 2021 effective date, you're out of compliance. 

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