Labor and Employment Law Overview: Ohio

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

Introduction to Employment Law in Ohio

Ohio is considered both an employee- and employer-friendly state.

Select Ohio employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Ohio requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Discrimination and Harassment

Ohio law prohibits employers from discriminating in employment on the basis of the following:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Military status;
  • National origin;
  • Disability;
  • Age; and
  • Ancestry.

Under Ohio law, unlawful sex discrimination includes discriminating against an employee because of the employee's pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is also prohibited.

Employer includes the following:

  • The state;
  • Any state political subdivision;
  • Any person employing four or more persons within the state; and
  • Any person acting directly or indirectly in an employer's interest.

Retaliation

State law prohibits employers from retaliating against any person because that person does the following:

  • Opposes any unlawful discriminatory practice; or
  • Makes a charge, testifies, assists or participates in any manner in any:
    • Investigation;
    • Proceeding; or
    • Hearing.

Equal Pay

Under Ohio law, employers are prohibited from discriminating in the payment of wages on the basis of:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Age;
  • National origin; and
  • Ancestry.

Specifically, employers may not pay wages to any employee at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to another employee for equal work on jobs that:

  • Require equal skill, effort and responsibility; and
  • Are performed under similar conditions.

However, payment at a different rate is allowed under a:

  • Seniority system;
  • Merit system;
  • System that measures earnings by the quantity or quality of production;
  • Wage rate differential determined by any factor other than:
    • Race;
    • Color;
    • Religion;
    • Sex;
    • Age;
    • National origin; or
    • Ancestry.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Ohio can be found in the Ohio Employee Handbook Table of Contents, EEO - Discrimination: Ohio, EEO - Harassment: Ohio, EEO - Retaliation: Ohio and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal and EEO - Retaliation: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Ohio requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Arrest and Conviction Records

Ohio law does not prohibit an employer from running a criminal background check. Generally, however, an employer may not question a job applicant regarding sealed or expunged arrests or convictions. An employer may only question an applicant about a sealed conviction record if the question bears a direct and substantial relationship to the position for which the person is being considered.

Mandatory Background Checks

Ohio law requires certain employers to conduct criminal records checks on all job applicants. Such employers include:

  • Community-based health care agencies providing child or adult day care;
  • Home health care or hospice services; and
  • Public or private schools or companies offering educational services.

An employer may hire an applicant contingent on completion of the background check, but if the check reveals that the individual is not qualified to hold the position, the individual must be released.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Ohio can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Ohio. Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Ohio requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Employees in Ohio must be paid a minimum wage of $8.10 per hour, except for the following:

  • Tipped employees, who may be paid a separate minimum wage;
  • Employees under age 16, who must be paid no less than the current federal minimum wage rate (i.e., $7.25 per hour); and
  • Employees who work for employers that have gross income under $297,000 may pay their employees the current federal minimum wage rate.

Overtime

Employers must pay employees for overtime at a wage rate of one-and-one-half times the employee's wage rate for hours in excess of 40 hours in one workweek. Those overtime requirements apply to:

  • The state;
  • The state's political subdivisions and instrumentalities;
  • Partnerships, associations, businesses, business trusts; and
  • Individuals.

The state's overtime requirements do not apply to employers that have a gross annual volume of sales, based upon transacted business, of less than $150,000 per year (excluding retail level excise taxes). There are additional exceptions based upon the employer's sector (e.g., agriculture workers).

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Ohio restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

All minors are prohibited from working in occupations found to be hazardous or detrimental to the well-being of minors. There are specific requirements for minors employed in a door-to-door sales activity.

With some exceptions, minors who are 14 or 15 years of age may not work:

  • More than three hours in any school day;
  • More than eight hours in a day that is not a school day;
  • More than 18 hours in any week while school is in session; and
  • More than 40 hours in any week while school is not in session.

Minors who are 14 or 15 years of age may not work before 7:00 a.m.

Minors who are 16 or 17 years old and who are required to attend school under Ohio law may not be employed:

  • Before 7:00 a.m., or, if the minor was not employed after 8:00 p.m. the night before, before 6:00 a.m.; and
  • After 11:00 p.m. on any night preceding a school day.

Additionally, minors must be provided with a 30-minute break when working more than five consecutive hours. Employers need not compensate minors for this time, but must keep records of this time.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Ohio can be found in the Ohio Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Ohio, Overtime: Ohio, Child Labor: Ohio and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Ohio requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Payment of Wages

Wages must be paid at least semimonthly. By the first of each month, employees must be paid for work performed during the initial half of the preceding month (ending with the 15th day of that month). By the 15th of each month, employees must be paid for the work performed during the final half of the preceding calendar month.

Recordkeeping

Every employer is required to keep records for at least three years, showing the following information for each employee:

  • Name;
  • Address;
  • Occupation;
  • Rate of pay;
  • Amount paid each pay period; and
  • Hours worked each day and each workweek.

Wage Deductions

Authorized employee deductions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Purchases of US savings bonds, corporate stocks or bonds;
  • Contributions to charity;
  • Savings programs (credit union or other regular savings programs); or
  • Loan or other obligation repayment.

An employer may not deduct or retain the employee's wages, or a part of wages, for wares, tools or machinery that are destroyed or damaged.

Continuation of Health Coverage (Mini-COBRA Law)

Group health policies issued to employers must provide that eligible employees and their covered dependents are entitled to elect group health care continuation coverage for up to 12 months, provided the employee meets certain eligibility requirements, including:

  • The employee had been covered under his or her former employer's health care coverage for at least three months prior to the employee's termination of employment;
  • The employee was involuntarily terminated (other than for gross misconduct); and
  • The employee is not covered by or eligible for coverage under Medicare or another group health plan.

Continuation must include prescription drug coverage if included in the original group plan coverage.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Ohio can be found in Payment of Wages: Ohio, Recordkeeping for Employee Compensation Purposes: Ohio and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Ohio. Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal, Recordkeeping for Employee Compensation Purposes: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Attendance and Leave

An Ohio employer is required to comply with multiple leave laws, such as:

  • Family military leave (covering employers with 50 or more employees);
  • Crime victim leave;
  • Jury and witness duty leave; and
  • Time off to vote.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in Ohio can be found in the Ohio Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Ohio, Other Leaves: Ohio, Jury Duty: Ohio and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal and Jury Duty: Federal.

Health and Safety

The Smoke Free Workplace Act forbids smoking in all workplaces and requires employers to post No Smoking signs at all entrances. In addition, Ohio law prohibits employers from providing a smoking break room for employees.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Ohio can be found in Employee Health: Ohio. Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Ohio employers are required to give notice if, in any seven-day period, they lay-off or separate 50 or more individuals because of lack of work. Employers are required to report the dates of the layoff or separation and the approximate number of persons affected.

Employers must notify the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services at least three working days before the first day of the layoff or separation.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Ohio can be found in Involuntary Terminations: Ohio. Federal requirements can be found in Involuntary Terminations: Federal.