Federal laws protect the rights of employers and employees nationally. However, Oregon has also enacted state laws to provide additional, more favorable coverage to employees.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time
Neither federal nor Oregon state labor laws clearly define full or part-time employment. This means an employer can decide which factors make an employee full- or part-time, affecting an employee’s benefits eligibility.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum requirements for wage and hour laws nationally. Oregon has also enacted state laws to further protect employees and clarify their rights. The FLSA’s standard for minimum wage is $7.25, and Oregon already had one of the highest minimum wages, requiring employees be paid at least $9.25 per hour. However, Oregon recently passed wage and hour laws that will begin taking effect in July 2017, and those laws establish even more generous minimum wage standards to be phased in over the next six years, with different wages based on the part of the country where an employee works.
There will be three wage areas, including Metro, Standard, and Nonurban. As of July 1, 2017, Metro workers will see the largest wage increase, with minimum wage set at $11.25 per hour. Rural workers will see an increase up to $10.25 per hour. Each year, the standard wage will increase based on the Consumer-Price Index. The projected wage increases are as follows:
|Standard Region||Portland Metro||Nonurban Counties|
|July 1, 2016||$9.75||$9.75||$9.50|
|July 1, 2017||$10.25||$11.25||$10.00|
|July 1, 2018||$10.75||$12.00||$10.50|
|July 1, 2019||$11.25||$12.50||$11.00|
|July 1, 2020||$12.00||$13.25||$11.50|
July 1, 2021
|July 1, 2022||$13.50||$14.75||$12.50|
In Oregon, both federal and state laws require non-exempt employees receive overtime payment. Overtime must be paid at a rate of one and a half times the regular rate of pay or the promised rate (whichever is greater) for all hours worked over 40 in the designated workweek. The employer can choose when the workweek starts and ends as long as it is seven consecutive 24 hour periods and repeats on a regular basis.
Oregon does not currently require employees be offered group health insurance by their employer. However, if healthcare is offered by an employer, state insurance laws mandate that the employer’s policy include certain benefits and give the right to continue coverage for employees under special circumstances, even if the group coverage is lost.
Oregon allows an employment relationship to be terminated or altered by either party, without notice or cause, and even for reasons that sometimes seem unfair. The employer can face penalty only if they fired the employee due to being a member of a "protected class". The Civil Rights Division of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) enforces Oregon’s civil rights laws that ban discrimination against employees.
In Oregon, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on an employee’s race, color, national origin, sex (including gender, pregnancy, and sexual harassment), religion, age (if over 18), marital status, physical/mental disability, injury, family relationship, genetic status, and retaliation for opposing unlawful employment practices. Any complaints of discrimination can be filed with the BOLI Civil Rights Division. Complaints can also be filed for violation of federal law through the local branch of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Federal law requires employees receive leave benefits under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA requires employers with at least 50 employees permit all eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for any of the following reasons:
- To care for a seriously ill immediate family member (child, parent, spouse);
- To recuperate from their own serious health conditions;
- To bond with a new child; or
- To handle urgent matters related to a family member’s military service.
Oregon law takes the benefits of the FMLA further and provides additional coverage if employers have more than 25 employees for at least 20 weeks a year. Additionally, employees are protected and are eligible for leave if they work at least 25 hours a week for the previous 180 days. Oregon also allows employees to take different types of leave independently during the year (ex: 12 weeks for maternity leave and 12 weeks for urgent matters for a family member’s military service). Oregon law may require an employee to provide medical certification about your need to take leave.
Where Can I Find a Local Employment Lawyer to Help Me?
Most employment laws have strict deadlines that must be complied with, so if you think you are not getting the basic rights and protections offered by Oregon’s state laws or by Federal Law, do not hesitate to contact a local Oregon employment lawyer today. The attorney can help you understand your rights and how to protect yourself.