Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as an hourly employee in Oregon?

April 15th 2024

For hourly employees based in Oregon, understanding your rights is paramount, as it paves the way for confidence and self-empowerment in your professional journey.

Each day, as you diligently record your work hours, your compensation becomes a fundamental aspect of your career. It’s natural to contemplate your employee rights and how best to exercise them. However, it’s important to recognize that these rights can vary significantly from one state to another across the United States.

If you find yourself as an hourly worker in Oregon, this article is tailored specifically to your situation. Our objective is not only to provide you with essential information to protect your rights but also to empower you to actively shape your work experience within the unique legal and regulatory framework of Oregon.

This Article Covers

Defining an Hourly Employee in Oregon
Wage and Hour Regulations in Oregon
Rest Laws in Oregon
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Oregon
Termination of Employment in Oregon

Defining an Hourly Employee in Oregon

What is Hourly Employment in Oregon?

Hourly employment in Oregon is a form of work arrangement where employees are compensated based on the number of hours they work. Oregon, like many states, has specific regulations and laws governing hourly employment to ensure fair wages and labor practices. Here are key aspects of hourly employment in Oregon:

  1. Minimum Wage: Oregon has a tiered minimum wage system based on geographic regions. As of July 1, 2023, the minimum wage rates for different areas of Oregon are as follows:
    • Non-urban Counties: $13.20 per hour 
    • Standard Counties: $14.20 per hour 
    • Portland Metro Area: $15.45 per hour
  2. Overtime Pay: Hourly employees in Oregon are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Overtime pay is typically calculated at one and a half times the regular hourly rate. Some exceptions and exemptions may apply based on the nature of the work and specific employment contracts.
  3. Wage Increases: Oregon’s minimum wage rates may increase annually. Employers and employees should stay informed about these changes to ensure compliance.
  4. Payroll Compliance: Employers are responsible for accurately tracking and recording the hours worked by their hourly employees. They must also ensure that employees receive at least the minimum wage rate applicable to their work location.
  5. Breaks and Meal Periods: Oregon labor laws mandate rest and meal breaks for employees based on the hours worked. The specific requirements for breaks and meal periods may vary depending on the length of the work shift.
  6. Geographic Variations: Oregon’s minimum wage rates vary by county or region, as mentioned earlier. Employers must pay their hourly employees the minimum wage rate corresponding to the geographic area where they work the majority of their hours.

Hourly employment provides flexibility for both employers and employees, allowing workers to be compensated based on the time they spend working. To ensure compliance with Oregon labor laws, employers should be aware of the minimum wage rates in their region, accurately track hours worked, and adhere to overtime pay regulations.

What are the Key Differences Between Salaried and Hourly Employees in Oregon?

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the key differences between hourly and salaried employees in Oregon:

Key Differences Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Compensation Paid based on the number of hours worked. Paid a fixed salary regardless of hours worked.
Minimum Wage Entitled to receive at least the state and federal minimum wage for each hour worked. Exempt from minimum wage requirements if certain criteria are met. (Must meet exemption criteria)
Overtime Pay Eligible for overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek. Double time for hours beyond 40 in a workweek. Typically exempt from overtime pay if they meet exemption criteria. (Must meet exemption criteria)
Work Schedule Work Schedule Compensation tied to the actual hours worked. Compensation remains the same regardless of hours worked.
Rest and Meal Breaks Entitled to rest breaks and meal breaks as per Oregon labor laws. Same entitlement to rest and meal breaks as hourly employees.

To learn more about Oregon labor laws, you can access our informative guides on understanding your rights as a salaried employee in Oregon, as well as Oregon overtime laws.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Oregon

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Oregon?

In Oregon, the maximum weekly working hours can vary depending on the industry and specific circumstances. For employees in the manufacturing industry, special rules apply:

  1. Overtime Threshold:
    • All hours worked over 10 in a single day are considered overtime hours.
    • Any hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek are also considered overtime hours.
  2. Overtime Compensation:
    • Overtime hours must be compensated at a rate of one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.
    • Employers are required to pay employees the greater amount of overtime, whether calculated on a daily or weekly basis.
  3. Daily Limits:
    • In the manufacturing industry, employees are prohibited from working for more than 13 hours in a single day.
  4. Rest Periods:
    • After any shift that lasts at least 8 hours, employees are entitled to a minimum of 10 hours of rest.
  5. Weekly Limits:
    • Generally, employees in Oregon may not work for more than 55 hours in a week.
    • An exception to this rule exists if an employee provides written consent or requests to work more than 55 hours.
    • Even with written consent, an employee may not work for more than 60 hours in a workweek.

It’s important to note that these regulations are specific to the manufacturing industry in Oregon. Other industries and occupations may have different maximum weekly working hour limits and overtime rules.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Oregon?

The minimum wage for hourly employees in Oregon varies depending on the location within the state. Oregon has a unique and complex minimum wage system that takes into account the population density of different areas. As of July 1, 2023, the minimum wage rates in Oregon are as follows:

  1. Portland Metro: Employees working within the urban growth boundary in areas including parts of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties are entitled to a minimum wage of $15.45 per hour.
  2. Standard: In several counties, including Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Yamhill, and parts of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties outside the urban growth boundary, the minimum wage is $14.20 per hour.
  3. Non-Urban: For counties with lower population density, such as Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler, the minimum wage is $13.20 per hour.

It’s important to note that these rates may change over time, as Oregon adjusts its minimum wage based on inflation and other factors.

This unique system reflects Oregon’s effort to consider the economic conditions of different regions within the state when setting minimum wage standards.

Rest Laws in Oregon

What are the Offered Meal and Rest Breaks for Hourly Employees in Oregon?

In Oregon, hourly employees are entitled to specific meal and rest breaks based on their work period, and additional protections related to heat illness prevention have been introduced as of June 15, 2022. Here are the details regarding the offered meal and rest breaks for hourly employees in Oregon:

  • Regular Meal and Rest Breaks:
    • Two 10-Minute Paid Rest Breaks: For each 8-hour work period, employees are entitled to two 10-minute paid rest breaks. These breaks are provided free from work responsibilities.
    • One 30-Minute Unpaid Meal Break: Additionally, employees are entitled to one 30-minute unpaid meal break during their 8-hour work period. This meal break allows employees to have time to eat and rest, but it is unpaid.
  • Work Period Length: It’s important to note that the meal and rest break entitlements described above are based on an 8-hour work period. If an employee’s work period is longer or shorter than 8 hours, the chart below provides more information about the breaks they should receive:
    • For work periods shorter than 8 hours: Proportionate breaks must be provided.
    • For work periods longer than 8 hours: Additional rest and meal breaks may be required.
  • Heat Illness Prevention Rest Breaks: Oregon-OSHA has introduced new rules, effective as of June 15, 2022, regarding workplace hazards posed by excessive heat. Employers must provide employees who work under high heat index conditions with heat illness prevention rest breaks. These breaks can take place at the same time as required meal or rest periods, depending on the scheduling options provided by OSHA’s rules.
  • Sick Leave Usage: In cases where an employee feels sick due to factors like air quality or heat indexes, they may use any available sick leave under Oregon Sick Leave laws. Additionally, under the BOLI rules, employees who are not first responders may use available sick leave when public officials determine that air quality or heat indexes at their work location or home could jeopardize their health.

It’s important for both employers and employees in Oregon to be aware of these meal, rest, and heat illness prevention break regulations, as they play a crucial role in ensuring employee well-being and compliance with state labor laws.

What Laws Govern Time Off and Leaves for Hourly Employees in Oregon?

In Oregon, several laws govern time off and leaves for hourly employees, with a specific focus on sick leave entitlements. Here is an overview of the key laws and regulations that apply:

  • Oregon Sick Leave Law: All Oregon employers are required to provide state sick leave to their employees. The specific requirements for sick leave depend on the size of the employer:
    • Employers with 10 or more employees (or 6 or more in the city of Portland) must provide paid sick leave.
    • Employers with fewer than 10 employees (or fewer than 6 in Portland) must provide unpaid sick leave.
  • Accrual and Usage: Under Oregon law, employees accrue sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, or one and one-third hours for every 40 hours worked. Employers can also choose to frontload sick leave at the beginning of the year. The annual accrual cap is 40 hours, and employees are allowed to use a maximum of 40 hours per year. Sick leave is job-protected.
  • Accrual Start and Waiting Period: Employees begin to accrue sick leave immediately upon hire. However, they must wait for a minimum of 90 days before they are eligible to use accrued sick leave.
  • Carryover and Limits: Employees are allowed to roll over up to 40 hours of unused paid sick leave from one year to the next. Employers can set a limit of 80 hours for the total amount of sick leave an employee can accrue. However, if employers choose to frontload sick leave, they are not required to allow their employees to roll over unused hours.
  • Reasons for Sick Leave: Sick leave in Oregon covers various reasons, including:
    • Employee’s or a family member’s illness, injury, or condition.
    • Preventive care.
    • Care for an infant, newly adopted child, or newly placed foster child.

These laws are designed to ensure that hourly employees in Oregon have access to necessary sick leave benefits, providing both job protection and flexibility for various personal and family needs. Employers are encouraged to comply with these regulations to maintain a harmonious work environment and meet their legal obligations.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Oregon

What are the Laws Regarding Pay Deductions for Hourly Employees in Oregon?

In Oregon, pay deductions for hourly employees are regulated by state and federal labor laws. It’s important to note that wage and hour laws can change, so it’s crucial to consult the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) or legal counsel for the most up-to-date information. Here are some key points regarding pay deductions for hourly employees in Oregon:

  • Deductions Permitted by Law:
    • Oregon law allows employers to make certain deductions from an hourly employee’s pay, including those required by state and federal laws. This includes deductions for income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare.
  • Deductions for Overpayment:
    • If an employer overpays an hourly employee due to an accounting error or similar mistake, the employer can make deductions to recover the overpayment, provided they follow specific legal requirements and obtain written consent from the employee.
  • Deductions for Employee-Approved Expenses:
    • An employer may make deductions from an employee’s pay for certain expenses if the employee has given written authorization. For example, deductions for uniforms or tools may be permissible with the employee’s consent.
  • Deductions for Benefit Plans:
    • Deductions for benefit plans, such as health insurance premiums, retirement contributions, and flexible spending accounts, are typically allowed if employees voluntarily participate in these programs.
  • Meal and Rest Break Deductions:
    • Employers are generally not allowed to make deductions from an employee’s pay for time spent on unpaid meal or rest breaks, provided the employee is relieved of all duties during these breaks.
  • Final Paycheck Deductions:
    • Employers are allowed to deduct any amounts owed by the employee (e.g., for unpaid loans, overpaid vacation, etc.) from the employee’s final paycheck, as long as it does not reduce the final paycheck below the minimum wage.
  • Unauthorized Deductions:
    • Employers are not allowed to make unauthorized deductions from an employee’s pay. Deductions that are not legally required or have not been approved by the employee in writing may be subject to legal action.

What are the Provided Hourly Employees Entitlements Under Oregon State Law?

Hourly employees in Oregon are entitled to various benefits and entitlements under state law, which cover a wide range of time-off and leave options. Key entitlements for hourly employees in Oregon include:

  1. Family and Medical Leave: Oregon’s Family Leave Act (OFLA) requires employers with 25 or more employees to provide eligible hourly employees with up to 12 weeks of leave per year. This leave can be used for various reasons, including a serious health condition of the employee or their family member, childbirth or adoption, pregnancy disability, and bereavement.
  2. Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML): Oregon has implemented a Paid Family and Medical Leave program, which provides eligible hourly employees with paid leave benefits. PFML benefits are funded through a combination of employer and employee contributions and became accessible to employees starting September 3, 2023.
  3. Paid Sick Leave: Under the Oregon Sick Time Law (OSTL), eligible hourly employees can accrue up to 40 hours of sick and safe time each year. The availability of paid or unpaid sick leave depends on the size of the employer. This leave can be used for various purposes, including an employee’s or family member’s illness, injury, preventive medical care, and bereavement, among others.
  4. Other Time Off Requirements: Oregon also mandates other types of time off for hourly employees, including military family leave, jury duty leave, juvenile court proceedings leave, crime victim leave, domestic violence leave, military leave, and more. These requirements ensure that employees have time off for various personal and legal reasons.
  5. Public Health Emergency Leave: Employees in Oregon may also be eligible to take leave during a public health emergency, with certain exceptions. This provision is particularly relevant in times of public health crises.
  6. Time-Off Overlaps: It’s important to note that if federal, state, and/or local laws overlap, employers must generally comply with the law that provides the greatest rights or benefits to the employee. This ensures that hourly employees receive the maximum protection and entitlements available under applicable laws.

These entitlements under Oregon state law aim to balance the needs of hourly employees for personal and family well-being with the operational requirements of employers.

Termination of Employment in Oregon

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Oregon?

In Oregon, employment relationships are typically considered “at-will,” which means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, with or without notice. This principle of at-will employment provides a significant degree of flexibility to both employers and employees, allowing them to make employment decisions without the need for specific cause or advance notice.

It’s important to note that while at-will employment is the general rule, there are exceptions to this principle. Employers in Oregon cannot terminate employees for discriminatory reasons, as this would violate anti-discrimination laws. Discriminatory reasons include firing an employee based on their race, gender, age, disability, religion, or other protected characteristics. Violations of these anti-discrimination laws can lead to legal consequences for the employer.

Additionally, Oregon has laws that protect employees from retaliation for exercising their legal rights, such as reporting workplace safety violations, filing workers’ compensation claims, or participating in collective bargaining activities. Employers cannot terminate employees for engaging in these protected activities.

It’s essential for both employers and hourly employees in Oregon to be aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding termination under state and federal employment laws. While the default rule is at-will employment, there are legal limitations on termination practices to ensure fair treatment of workers. Therefore, understanding the termination laws and staying informed about updates is crucial for maintaining a healthy employment relationship in Oregon.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Oregon?

In the state of Oregon, there are no specific laws mandating that employers must provide severance pay to their employees, whether they are hourly or salaried. Severance pay in Oregon is typically offered at the discretion of the employer or as part of an employment contract or severance agreement.
However, it’s important to note that if an employer chooses to offer severance pay, certain legal considerations come into play to protect the rights of the employees during the negotiation and agreement process. These considerations are outlined below:

  1. Negotiating Severance Pay: If you are an hourly employee in Oregon and have been offered a severance package, you have the right to negotiate the terms of that package. This includes seeking higher severance pay, extended benefits, or the removal of any limiting clauses from the severance agreement. The negotiation process is an opportunity for you to secure a fair severance package that safeguards your future financial stability.
  2. Workplace Fairness Act: Under the Workplace Fairness Act, which became fully effective in October 2020, Oregon employers are prohibited from silencing employees regarding cases of harassment, discrimination, or sexual assault. This means that employers cannot include non-disclosure or non-disparagement clauses in severance agreements that would prevent employees from speaking out about such issues. If an employer attempts to violate this act, employees have the right to take legal action and may recover up to $5,000 in civil penalties through a private class action suit. This legislation empowers employees and ensures their rights are protected during severance negotiations.

In summary, while Oregon does not have specific laws requiring severance pay for hourly employees, the legal framework in the state ensures that employees have the right to negotiate severance terms and protects them from being silenced regarding workplace issues, including those related to harassment and discrimination.

Final Thoughts

In summary, employment laws in Oregon prioritize fairness and protection for both employers and employees. The state upholds the principle of “employment-at-will,” allowing employers to terminate employees without a written contract, as long as the reasons for termination are not discriminatory or retaliatory. Oregon labor laws do not mandate severance pay, leaving it to the discretion of employers to offer such benefits when terminating employees.
Oregon enforces minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, ensuring that employees receive fair compensation. Employers also have the flexibility to provide additional benefits, such as vacation and holiday pay, to their employees.
Employees in Oregon benefit from anti-discrimination and anti-harassment provisions that protect them from various forms of discrimination based on characteristics such as race, gender, and age. Retaliation against employees who exercise their rights is also prohibited.
To maintain productive and legally compliant working relationships in Oregon, both employers and employees should have a comprehensive understanding of these employment laws and work together to create a harmonious work environment.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.