Labor and Employment Law Overview: Oregon

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

  • Oregon law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also allow employees to access their personnel files, protect whistleblowers and allow wage discussions. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Oregon allows preemployment criminal checks and drug testing, but limits credit checks. Oregon has passed a "ban the box" law. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Oregon, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest breaks, breastfeeding breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Oregon has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, payment of wages, pay statements, pay frequency and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Oregon law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including family leave, paid sick leave, domestic violence leave, bone marrow donation leave and time off on Veterans Day. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Oregon law requires employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees, including having a written safety and health plan and safety committees. Oregon also prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Oregon employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Oregon

Oregon has many laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including broader antidiscrimination protections, a higher minimum wage and health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as jury duty leave and occupational health and safety.

Select Oregon 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 Oregon requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices

Oregon's fair employment practices law applies to employers with one or more employees. In addition to the federally protected classes (race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, ancestry and disability), the law prohibits discrimination based on (but not limited to) the following factors:

  • Pregnancy;
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Marital status;
  • The existence of expunged juvenile criminal records;
  • Lawful use of tobacco products during off-duty hours;
  • Providing testimony in a government proceeding;
  • Credit history;
  • Good-faith reports of health or safety conditions or patient abuse; and
  • Victim of domestic violence or abuse.

Harassment is a form of illegal discrimination and is also prohibited under the law.

Oregon's disability discrimination law applies to employers with six or more employees.

Equal Pay

Employers with one or more employees in Oregon are prohibited from discriminating between the sexes in the payment of wages for work of comparable character and requiring comparable skills. Exceptions may be made based on a seniority or merit system or a factor other than sex.

Discussion of Wages

Oregon prohibits discrimination and retaliation against an employee who has inquired about, discussed or disclosed his or her or another employee's wages or who has made a charge, filed a complaint or instituted an investigation, proceeding or hearing based on a wage disclosure.

An employee who has access to wage information as part of his or her job and who discloses the information to any individual without authorized access is not protected, unless the disclosure is in response to a charge or complaint or in conjunction with an investigation, proceeding or hearing, including internal investigations.

Access to Personnel Files

An employer generally must provide employees with access to their personnel records and time and pay records within 45 days of the employee's request. The employer may charge an amount reasonably calculated to recover the actual cost of providing the services.

Whistleblower Protections

Oregon protects employees who report illegal activity by their employers. An employer may not terminate, demote, suspend or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against an employee with regard to promotion, compensation or other terms, conditions or privileges of employment because the employee has made a good-faith report of a violation of a state or federal law, rule or regulation.

Scheduling Laws

Retail, hospitality and food services establishments with 500 or more employees worldwide, including chain and integrated enterprises, must:

  • Provide detailed, written estimates of work schedules;
  • Provide written work schedules in advance;
  • Provide timely notification of schedule changes, or else pay additional wages;
  • Refrain from requiring an employee to work a shift not previously included in the written schedule;
  • Allow employees to make scheduling requests based on their preferences and availability;
  • Post written schedules in a clearly visible and accessible location;
  • Provide 10 hours off between shifts, or else pay additional wages; and
  • Refrain from discriminating or retaliating against employees who exercise their rights.

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 Oregon can be found in the Oregon Employee Handbook Table of Contents, EEO - Discrimination: Oregon, EEO - Harassment: Oregon, EEO - Retaliation: Oregon, Disabilities (ADA): Oregon, HR Management: Oregon, Employee Discipline: Oregon, Managing Employees in Special Situations and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oregon? Federal requirements can be found in EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal, Disabilities (ADA): Federal, HR Management: Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Oregon requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Ban the Box

An Oregon employer may not require an applicant to disclose a past conviction on an employment application. If no interview is conducted, an employer may not require an applicant to disclose a criminal conviction before a conditional job offer has been made.

Criminal Checks

An employer must advise job applicants that criminal offender information will be sought. Then, the employer must confirm for the Department of State Police that the applicant has been advised and the manner in which he or she was advised.

Oregon law prohibits the use of expunged juvenile records in making employment decisions.

Drug Testing

Oregon employers are permitted to conduct preemployment drug tests, but must follow state law governing the manner in which such testing is done. Positive test results that will cause denial of employment must be confirmed by a clinical laboratory or an equivalent out-of-state facility before the result is released.

Credit Checks

An Oregon employer is generally prohibited from obtaining or using credit history information for employment purposes, unless such information is substantially job related (e.g., an essential job function requires access to financial information; credit history information is needed for bonding or insuring the employee). Exceptions include federally insured banks or credit unions, law enforcement officers and where state or federal law requires the use of credit information.

Salary History Inquiry Restrictions

An employer may not ask job applicants about their salary history or seek the information from a current or former employer. However, an employer may ask a prospective employee for written authorization to confirm prior compensation after the employer makes a job offer that includes an amount of compensation.

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 Oregon can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Oregon, Employment Offer: Oregon and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oregon? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal and Employment Offer: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Oregon requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Oregon's minimum wage rate varies depending on where an employer is located. The minimum wage increases on July 1 of every year until 2023 according to a set schedule. An employer may not use tips as credit toward minimum wages owed to an employee.

Overtime

Oregon law requires that most nonexempt employees must be paid at least one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Certain employees are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 10 per day.

Rest Breaks

An employer must provide employees with a 10-minute rest period - during which the employee is relieved of all duties - for every four-hour work segment or major portion thereof (i.e., more than two hours). The rest periods may not be added to or deducted from the employee's regular work shift to reduce the employee's overall work period.

Exceptions apply to employees in a retail or service establishment, employees who work fewer than five hours in any continuous 16-hour period, employees who work alone and employees who are allowed to leave their work station to use the restroom facilities as needed.

Meal Breaks

An employer must provide employees who work more than a six-hour work period a 30-minute meal break during which the employee is relieved of all duties. Employees who work more than 14 hours during a single work period are entitled to a second 30-minute meal break. Employees who work between 22 and 24 hours during a single work period are entitled to a third 30-minute meal break. Meal breaks need not be paid, unless the employee is not truly relieved of all duties.

Breastfeeding Breaks

An employer with 25 or more employees in Oregon must provide reasonable rest periods to accommodate any employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant who is 18 months of age or younger. Reasonable rest periods are at least 30 minutes for each four-hour work period. Breaks should be taken toward the middle of work periods and, if possible, should be taken at the same time as any other required rest or meal periods provided by the employer.

Breastfeeding breaks must be treated as paid rest breaks up to the amount of time the employer is required to provide paid rest breaks.

An employer is not required to provide breastfeeding breaks if it can establish that doing so would inflict an undue hardship on its business.

Child Labor

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

Minors under the age of 18 are prohibited from working in occupations deemed hazardous by federal law. Oregon law does not exempt agricultural occupation as federal law does. Minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from working in a variety of other occupations.

An employer must provide certain working conditions for minors, including a sanitary and safe work area, adequate lighting and ventilation, and adequate wash rooms and toilet facilities.

Employees age 15 and younger may only work outside school hours, up to three hours per day and 18 hours per week when school is in session and up to eight hours per day and 40 hours per week when school is not in session. Employees age 16 and 17 may generally work up to 44 hours per week.

Employment of minors under the age of 14 is generally prohibited. An employer that wishes to employ individuals under the age of 14 must apply for a work permit.

Employment of minors requires an employment certificate and proof of age.

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 Oregon can be found in the Oregon Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Oregon, Overtime: Oregon, Hours Worked: Oregon, Child Labor: Oregon, Oregon Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oregon? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Oregon requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Health Care Continuation

Under Oregon law, certain group health policies issued to employers with fewer than 20 employees must offer continuation coverage to covered employees and their qualified beneficiaries upon a qualifying event, including termination of employment, reduction in hours, eligibility for Medicare, loss of dependent child status, termination of membership in the group health plan and the employee's death.

Individuals electing continuation coverage must pay 100 percent of the full group premium, on a monthly basis, in advance. Continuation coverage generally lasts up to nine months.

In addition, Oregon requires an employer with 20 or more employees to provide continuation coverage for surviving, divorced and separated spouses and their covered dependents.

Payment of Wages

Employees must be paid in cash or by checks that can be cashed in full, without fees or discounts at a bank or an established business located within the county where the employee lives or works. An employer may pay wages by direct deposit or with electronic paycards if certain conditions are met.

Pay Statements

Each time wages are paid, an employer must provide each employee with an accurate, itemized written pay statement. The statement must include the following information:

  • Total gross payment;
  • Amount and brief description of each deduction from the gross payment;
  • Total number of hours worked during the time covered by the gross payment;
  • Rate of pay;
  • Total number of hours worked at each rate of pay, if employee is paid under multiple pay rates;
  • Number of completed pieces and rate of pay per piece, if employee is paid on a piece rate;
  • Net amount paid after deductions;
  • Employer's name, address, telephone number and business registry or business identification number;
  • Pay period for which the payment is made;
  • Wage payment date;
  • Employee's name;
  • Employee's payment method (i.e., by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece rate or commission);
  • Allowances, if any, the employer is claiming as part of the minimum wage; and
  • For nonexempt employees, the regular hourly rate(s) of pay, the overtime rate(s) of pay, the number of regular hours worked and pay for those hours, and the number of overtime hours worked and pay for those hours.

Upon request, an employer with five or more employees during any calendar month must provide an annual pay statement for the previous year by March 10.

Pay Frequency

Employees must be paid at least every 35 days on regularly scheduled paydays.

Wage Deductions

An employer may make deductions from an employee's wages if required by state or federal law, with the employee's written authorization, if authorized by a wage or collective bargaining agreement, or for other permissible reasons (e.g., garnishments, charitable donations, benefits).

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 Oregon can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Oregon, Payment of Wages: Oregon and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oregon? Federal requirements can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal and Payment of Wages: Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Key Oregon requirements impacting time off and leaves of absence are:

Family and Medical Leave

The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) requires employers with 25 or more employees to provide 12 weeks of leave a year for:

  • The employee's or a covered family member's serious health condition;
  • A sick child who requires home care;
  • The birth, adoption or placement for foster care of a child;
  • Pregnancy disability; and
  • Bereavement following the death of a family member.

An employee may be able to take more than 12 weeks of leave in a year depending on the reasons leave is taken.

Under the Oregon Sick Time Law (OSTL), eligible employees are entitled to accrue up to 40 hours of sick and safe time each year. Whether the time is paid or unpaid depends on the size of the employer.

Leave may be used for the following purposes:

  • The employee's or a family member's illness, injury or health condition; need for care or treatment; or need for preventive medical care;
  • To care for an infant, a newly adopted child or a newly placed foster child;
  • The employee's or a family member's serious health condition;
  • To care for a child who is suffering from an illness, injury or condition that is not considered a serious health condition, but requires home care;
  • Bereavement following the death of a family member;
  • Reasons related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking;
  • Donation of accrued time to another employee; or
  • A public health emergency.

Other Time Off Requirements Affecting Oregon Employers

In addition to the OFLA and OSTL, an Oregon employer is also required to comply with a dozen other leave and time off laws, such as:

  • Military family leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Juvenile court proceedings leave;
  • Crime victim leave (covering employers with six or more employees);
  • Domestic violence leave (covering employers with six or more employees);
  • Military leave;
  • Time off on Veterans Day;
  • Bone marrow donation leave;
  • Legislative leave (covering employers with 10 or more employees);
  • Search and rescue operation leave;
  • Emergency responder leave; and
  • Olympic games leave.

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 time off and leave of absence practices in Oregon can be found in the Oregon Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Oregon, Jury Duty: Oregon, Other Leaves: Oregon, USERRA: Oregon, Oregon Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oregon? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Oregon requirements impacting health and safety are:

Occupational Safety and Health

Oregon operates its job safety and health programs covering the private sector under a state plan approved by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Oregon Safe Employment Act (OSEA) requires an employer to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees, including furnishing devices and safeguards and adopting processes that are reasonably necessary to protect employees' safety and health. An employer must implement a written safety and health program. Most employers must also establish safety committees.

Smoke-Free Workplace

The Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act prohibits smoking in enclosed areas open to the public and in enclosed areas under the control of an employer (e.g., work areas, employee lounges, shared work vehicles, rest rooms, conference rooms, cafeterias, meeting rooms). Smoking is also prohibited within 10 feet of all entrances, exits and accessibility points, such as windows or air-intake vents.

An employer must inform its employees of the ban, as well as post signage at all building entrances and exits. Ashtrays and receptacles for smoking must be positioned to more than 10 feet from building access points.

Safe Driving Practices

Oregon law prohibits drivers from using or even holding a mobile electronic device while driving, but permits the use of a hands-free device.

Be aware that where there is an 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 Oregon can be found in the Oregon Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: Oregon, Employee Health: Oregon, Oregon Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oregon? Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal and Employee Health: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Oregon requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

Terminated employees must be paid their final wages by the end of the first business day after the termination.

Employees who resign and provide at least 48 hours' notice of their resignation must be paid immediately. Employees who quit and do not provide 48 hours' notice must be paid their final wages by the earlier of five days after resignation or the next regular payday.

Generally, departing employees must be compensated for accrued but unused vacation time at the final rate of pay, if an employment contract or employer policy provides for paid vacations.

References

Oregon employers enjoy a qualified privilege when furnishing a job reference to an employee's prospective employer. In order to proceed with a defamation claim based on a job reference, an employee must show that the employer acted in bad faith by disclosing information that:

  • Was knowingly false;
  • Was deliberately misleading;
  • Was rendered with malicious purpose; or
  • Violated the employee's civil rights.

Be aware that where there is an 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 Oregon can be found in Payment of Wages: Oregon, Employee Communications: Oregon and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oregon? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.