Back Oregon Labor & Employment Laws

Oregon Labor & Employment Laws

Oregon labor laws are designed to provide protections for employees. Oregon laws provide you with breaks and meal periods so that you can have time to rest and time to eat. If you get sick, or someone in your house falls ill, Oregon labor laws protect your job while you tend to yourself or your family long term or short term. 

What Are My Rights as an Employee in Oregon?

In Oregon, employees have many rights protected by federal law and state law. 

Oregon Employment Law for Sick Leave

Oregon state law provides every worker with sick leave. All employees are given one hour of protected sick leave for every 30 hours worked, no more than 40 hours per year. Your employer can opt to give you 40 hours of sick leave at the start of each year to frontload this requirement. 

This sick leave can be used for things like:

  • When you fall ill
  • When a family member is sick
  • When you need to visit your doctor
  • When you or a family member are injured
  • When you have mental illnesses and need time off

If you work in a company with more than 10 employees, or more than six in the city of Portland, your sick leave is paid. If you work in a smaller company, you still get the same legal protections for sick days, but you won’t be paid for them. 

You are eligible for sick leave once you have worked with the same company for 90 days. It is the responsibility of your employer to inform you periodically how much sick leave you have on the books.

Medical Leave and Family Leave

Oregon labor laws provide other forms of leave as well. The state has many laws in place that protect the rights of workers to care for themselves and their families. Anyone who works for a company with 25 or more employees potentially qualifies for what is called Oregon Family Leave. 

Oregon Family Leave is protected but unpaid if you do not have any other form of vacation time or sick leave. You are allowed to take up to 12 weeks off each year for any of the following reasons:

  • Your need to take time off for the foster placement of a child, adoption of a child or birth of a child. This is called parental leave and any parent can use it. 
  • You can take time off for a health condition that you, your spouse or parent, in-laws or children have.
  • Pregnancy disability leave is another form of family leave you can take before or after the birth of a child. This can be used in conjunction with 12 more weeks for any of the other reasons listed. 
  • Sick child leave gives you time to care for a child who is injured or ill. It can also be used if a childcare provider closes down due to public health emergencies, or if schools close down for the same.
  • Oregon also has military family leave which you can use if your service member spouse has been called to active duty.
  • Should someone pass away, you can take bereavement leave.

Note: To qualify for these types of leave you must a) work in a company with 25 employees or more, b) have worked a minimum of 25 hours weekly for the previous six months and c) your employer must give you the same health insurance benefits you had while working and hold your job for you. 

Discrimination

Oregon employment laws prohibit discrimination of any kind. This means no employer is allowed to treat you differently because of your disability, race, sex, age or any other protected characteristic. This discrimination applies to the hiring process, work environment or firing process. 

Domestic Violence

Oregon prides itself on protecting employees. Employers must make reasonable changes to keep employees safe who are victims of domestic violence. 

Oregon Labor Laws and Workplace Safety

You have a legal right to a safe and healthy workplace. In Oregon, employers must, for example, provide personal protective equipment for employees who are logging, working in fisheries or working near loud machinery. 

The federal government and OSHA mandate certain workplace health and safety requirements that employers must follow, which must be posted in the workplace. These have to do with safety standards, minimum wage, breaks and so forth. 

Oregon Employee Laws: Hiring and Firing

You are protected from discrimination when applying to a job, working at a job or being fired from a job. Federal law and state law prohibit certain questions from being asked during an interview, or any discrimination based on age, gender or race. 

Oregon Pay and Compensation Laws

Minimum Wage

The basic minimum wage in Oregon is $12.75. It is set to increase on a scheduled basis for the next year. This minimum wage applies to any hours worked up to 40 hours in a given work week. Beyond that, overtime pay applies. 

Breaks and Meal Times

For every eight-hour shift you work in Oregon, you get breaks and meal times as follows:

  • Two 10-minute paid breaks
  • One 30-minute unpaid meal break

Employers can choose to offer more break times. For those who work more or less than eight hours, the rest breaks and meal breaks are as follows:

  • Two to six hours: one rest break
  • Six hours: one rest break and one meal break
  • Six to 10 hours: two rest breaks and one meal break
  • Ten to 14 hours: three rest breaks and one meal break
  • Fourteen hours: three rest breaks and two meal breaks
  • Fourteen to 18 hours: four rest breaks and two meal breaks
  • Eighteen to 22 hours: five rest breaks and two meal breaks
  • Twenty-two hours: five rest breaks and three meal breaks
  • Twenty-two to 24 hours: six rest breaks and three meal breaks

How Does Overtime Work in Oregon?

For those who work more than 40 hours per week, Oregon law requires compensation for overtime pay at 1.5 times your regular rate of pay. 

Employers must provide paychecks on a regular basis and they cannot come more than 35 days apart from one another. They cannot withhold or delay giving your paycheck as a means of discipline. If you are fired, you quit or you are laid off, the final wages must be given by the next pay period. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What deductions can my employer take?

Any deductions taken from your paycheck can only be legally required like taxes or those you submit voluntarily in writing. Each paycheck must list the amount of your deductions and why. 

2. I am nursing, do I get extra breaks for pumping?

Oregon is very family oriented. Legally, you are allowed extra breaks to express milk for nursing parents, until the child reaches age 18 months. You are also legally given a private space where you can pump that is not the company bathroom. 

3. Can my employer fire me without cause?

In Oregon, employers or employees can terminate the working relationship without cause and without notice. You, as an employee can quit on the spot without providing reason just as your employee can fire you on the spot without cause. This is referred to legally as “at will” and Oregon is an “at will” state. Unless you have an employment contract that states otherwise, you can be let go or fired at any time, without reason. However, you cannot be fired or let go for discriminatory reasons like your age, your religion, your race or your gender. 

Still, there may be times where circumstances are suspect, such as:

  • You reported hazardous conditions to OSHA and were immediately fired
  • A superior made sexual advances and when you turned them down, you were let go
  • Your boss discovered you were Muslim or Mormon and fired you the next day

If you believe you have been fired or let go because of discriminatory reasons, you can file a complaint here, or contact the state labor department at 971-673-0 761 or help@boli.state.or.us. You can also speak with an employment attorney about filing a lawsuit against them. 

4. I just found out another employee in my same position makes more than I do, what can I do?

Employers must provide equal pay for equal work. The same wages, bonuses and benefits must be given to you for doing work similar to other people in the office. 

If, for example, you find out that another employee is doing comparable work for more money and better benefits, you can demand equal pay and matching benefits. Consider speaking with an attorney if your employer does not comply. 

Your employer is not allowed, if brought to their attention, to cut the benefits or wages of the comparable employee in order to equalize the pay and compensation. Yours must be raised to match. 

If you feel your employer is paying you less because of discriminatory reasons, you can file a lawsuit in court against your employer. 

5. My workplace has OSHA violations, what can I do?

Oregon state labor laws protect your right to talk about problems in the workplace or report job hazards to OSHA in Oregon without repercussions. If your employer is violating these laws, you can file a complaint here, or contact the state labor department at 971-673-0 761 or help@boli.state.or.us.

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