Labor and Employment Law Overview: Ohio
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
- Ohio employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on a variety of factors. See Unlawful Discrimination.
- Under state law, employers may pay different wage rates for equal work under certain circumstances. See Equal Pay.
- Certain employees are exempt from paying Ohio's minimum wage rate. See Minimum Wage.
- Ohio's overtime provisions mirror the federal law, but special rules apply to employers in certain industries. See Overtime.
- Certain employees must be provided with a 30-minute break. See Meal and Rest Periods.
- State law outlines how frequently wages must be paid to employees. See Payment of Wages.
- Employers may make wage deductions only under limited circumstances. See Wage Deductions.
- Employees working for small employers (those having less than 20 employees) are entitled to elect group health care continuation coverage for up to 12 months, provided the employee meets certain eligibility requirements. See Continuation of Health Coverage (Mini-COBRA Law).
Key Ohio Employment Laws
Ohio has key employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship. Below, HR professionals will find a summary of certain laws they are most likely to encounter. It is important that HR professionals understand state law and how it interacts with applicable federal laws.
Interplay Between State and Federal Law
Employers are responsible for complying with both state and federal executive orders, statutes, regulations and other legal requirements. Often, state and federal legal requirements will address the same subject matter and impose varying compliance obligations on the employer. For instance, federal law may impose a higher minimum wage rate than state law. Alternatively, state law may require employers to retain certain records for a longer time period than federal law. Unfortunately, employers cannot select which law they want to comply with. Instead, employers that are covered by both state and federal law must comply with both. As a general rule of thumb, complying with the law that offers the greatest possible rights or benefits to the employee will ensure the employer meets its compliance obligations.
Ohio law prohibits employers from discriminating in employment on the basis of the following:
- Military status;
- National origin;
- Age; and
Under Ohio law, unlawful sex discrimination includes discriminating against an employee because of the employee's marital status, pregnancy or childbirth. With respect to pregnancy, after an employee returns frommaternity leave, employers must reinstate the employee in same manner it would reinstate any other employee returning from disability leave.
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.
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:
- Proceeding; or
Right of Employees to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Under Ohio law, a hiring or employment contract or agreement (whether written, oral or implied) is void if it promises the following:
- Not to join, become or remain a member of a labor organization or employer organization; or
- To withdraw from the employment relation if joining, becoming or remaining a member of a labor organization or employer organization.
Medical Examination Fee
An employer with three or more employees may not require any prospective employee or applicant to pay the cost of a medical examination required by the employer as a condition of employment.
Under Ohio law, employers are prohibited from discriminating in the payment of wages on the basis of the following factors:
- National origin; or
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 the following:
- A seniority system;
- A merit system;
- A system that measures earnings by the quantity or quality of production;
- A wage rate differential determined by any factor other than the following:
- National origin; or
Child Labor Laws
State child labor laws place restrictions on the type of work a minor can perform and limitations on minors' hours of work. For instance, minors may begin working at age 14, subject to certain restrictions. Minors between the ages of 14 and 17 require a work permit.
Employees in Ohio must be paid a minimum wage of $8.10 per hour, except for the following:
- Tipped employees, who must 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 $283,000 and may pay their employees the current federal minimum wage rate.
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
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 (i.e., agriculture workers).
Every employer is required to keep records for at least three years, showing the following information for each employee:
- Rate of pay;
- Amount paid each pay period; and
- Hours worked each day and each workweek.
Meal and Rest Periods
Under Ohio law, employers generally are not required to provide lunch or restroom breaks. However, if an employee is under age 18, the employer must give the employee a half-hour break for every five hours worked. See Employee Compensation > Hours Worked ; Employee Compensation > Hours Worked: Ohio.
Payment of Wages
Wages must be paid semimonthly. By the first of each month, employees must be paid for work performed during the initial half of the prior 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 prior calendar month.
Prevailing Wages (Construction Projects by Public Authorities)
Ohio's prevailing wage law applies to construction projects by public authorities. The law requires public authorities to pay workers the local prevailing wage rate.
Unless an employer has an express contract with an employee, 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. Authorized employee deductions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Purchases of U.S. savings bonds, corporate stocks or bonds;
- Contributions to charity;
- Savings programs (credit union or other savings programs); or
- Loan or other obligation repayment.
Continuation of Health Coverage (Mini-COBRA Law)
Under state law, employees working for small employers (those having less than 20 employees) 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 the past three months;
- The employee was involuntarily terminated (other than for gross misconduct); and
- The employee is not covered by or eligible for coverage under Medicare or any other group health care coverage.
Continuation must include prescription drug coverage if included in the group plan coverage.
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