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With more than 10,000 restaurants operating within its borders that total $10 billion in sales, the state of Oregon (and its restaurant industry) is thriving.
But if you want to keep your restaurant thriving, you’ll have to ensure you’re closely following Oregon’s restaurant labor laws. Violating even one of these laws can ruin the name that you’ve worked so hard to build for your restaurant business.
Getting caught doing wrong by your restaurant employees isn’t the wisest financial move either. In 2018, one Oregon restaurant was fined $580,000 for violating tip pooling laws.
Since you’re here, you probably don’t want your restaurant to end up like that one. So in this article, we’ll be providing you with an overview of Oregon’s restaurant labor laws, in addition to some quick tips for adhering to them without causing too much stress—or costing you too much money.
Check out the laws you’ll need to follow and the fees you could face for violating them in our ebook: Restaurant Fair Workweek Law: An Overview.
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Employee Pay Regulations
Oregon Minimum Wage
Oregon’s minimum wage varies in each part of the state and is scheduled to rise annually until at least 2023.
Currently, the state’s minimum wage is:
- $12.50 for Portland and the Portland Urban Growth Boundary.
- $11.25 for the “standard” minimum wage.
- $11 for “nonurban” counties.
Check out the chart below to see how much minimum wage will increase over the next few years.
Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees
Oregon does not acknowledge a tip credit for minimum wage, meaning employers must pay tipped employees the same minimum wage as non-tipped employees, regardless of what tips they receive.
Hourly employees are entitled to time-and-a-half pay for all hours worked in excess of 40. Note that this cannot be waived by employees in exchange for an opportunity to work more shifts, so stay away from making that a condition when offering extra hours to employees.
To avoid paying unnecessary overtime pay, consider using a restaurant scheduling software with overtime alerts so you’ll know to rearrange your schedule accordingly. Otherwise, you run the risk of improperly documenting employees’ overtime history, which could come back to bite you with back pay and fines.
Charging Employees and Wage Deductions
Employers cannot charge restaurant employees for any items required for the job, such as employee uniforms. Additionally, employees cannot charge for cash register shortages or broken/damaged property.
However, if an employer believes an employee destroyed property in an act of negligence, employers can pursue retribution through legal proceedings.
Employee Time Off and Benefit Regulations
Oregon restaurant employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal break for any shift that is six or more hours. The break is unpaid, but only if an employee is fully relieved of his or her duties during said break.
If an employee is not fully relieved during his or her meal break, employers must pay workers during their meal time.
There are also regulations on when the break must be taken. If the employee’s shift is:
- Seven hours or less: The break must fall between the second and fifth hours of that employee’s shift.
- More than seven hours: The break must fall between the third and sixth hours of the employee’s shift.
Oregon restaurant employees are entitled to a ten-minute break “for each four hours worked (or major fraction thereof).”
Keep in mind that this break is separate from the meal break and must be treated as such. Therefore, if an employee works an eight hour shift, she is entitled to one unpaid meal break for 30 minutes (paid if she is required to work through it) and two paid 10-minute rest breaks. Therefore, it makes sense to prepare for when these breaks will fall for each employee before you begin the day so you’re not forced to allow multiple employees on break at the same time.
You may also want to utilize a break alerts software so managers and employees know when breaks should be taken, avoid fines, and prevent employees from feeling overworked.
Oregon restaurateurs are under no legal obligation to provide employees with vacation time.
However, employers may still have a vacation policy. However, unless it is explicitly stated in the policy that accrued vacation time does not need to be paid out when an employee parts ways with the business, your restaurant will have to pay employees for accrued, unused vacation time.
All that said, vacation time and time off is crucial for employees to feel respected and well-rested at their jobs, so paid vacation should certainly be offered if your restaurant can afford it.
If paid vacation isn’t in your budget, ask employees to submit schedule changes or time off requests as far in advance as possible so managers can accommodate requests, or use an employee scheduling software that allows for easy shift swaps so workers can coordinate schedule changes among themselves and arrange days off when needed.
Unlike vacation days, Oregon does require employers to provide sick leave for employees. However, the number of employees working at your restaurant determines if that sick time must be paid or unpaid.
For restaurants with 10 or more employees, sick leave must be paid. This also applies to restaurants in Portland with six or more employees.
Restaurants with less than 10 employees in Oregon (or less than six in Portland) must offer sick time, but that time does not need to be paid.
Regardless of the number of employees, restaurants must provide up to 40 hours of sick leave.
Holiday Time Off and Pay
Because restaurants are private businesses, they are not required in the state of Oregon to close the business or provide employees with time-and-a-half pay on holidays (unless the hours worked on the holiday contributes to an excess of 40 for the week).
However, like vacation time, you should make every effort to accommodate employee time off requests during the holidays so your staff knows they are respected. Be sure to source any time off requests well in advance of the holiday to avoid any no shows on the holiday.
Jury Duty Time Off and Pay
Employers are not required to pay employees for responding to their summons or serving on a jury. However, employers are not allowed to take any retaliatory action (or threaten to do so) when an employee is summoned.
To minimize the impact this could have on your business, ask employees to alert you as soon as they receive a jury summons so you can adjust your future scheduling. Jury notices tend to arrive months before the scheduled jury date, so this should be a reasonable request if you’re able to rearrange that week’s schedule without threatening to take away any hours from the employee’s work week.
Time Off for Voting
Oregon restaurateurs are not required to provide either paid or unpaid time off for their employees to vote in elections, but since many or all of your employees may choose to exercise their right to vote, consider allowing them time off periods during slower times of the day, or sending notice a few weeks in advance reminding employees to take time before or after their shifts to fill out a ballot.
Also, remind employees that they can vote by mail in Oregon, which would eliminate the need to make special arrangements.
Time Off for Bereavement
Oregon was the first state to require bereavement leave for employees.
Restaurants with 25+ employees must provide up to two weeks of bereavement leave to employees who lose a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, or same-sex domestic partner. The time may be used to plan or attend a funeral, or to simply grieve. However, the time off must be taken within 60 days of the family member’s passing.
When taking bereavement leave, employees are allowed to take up to 2 weeks of leave for each family member that dies and the bereavement leave taken must be completed within 60 days of the death of the family member.
Oregon Fair Work Week Act Overview
Oregon is the only state in the country with a statewide fair workweek law. Enshrined in Senate Bill 828 in 2017, Oregon’s Fair Work Week Act went into effect in June 2018.
The law was written to add more stability to the volatile scheduling process of restaurant employees. The 200,000+ restaurant employees in Oregon are no strangers to long hours and last-minute shift changes, and the Fair Work Week Act offers many of them the chance at a healthier work-life balance.
Fast facts about the Fair Work Week law and its contents:
- Employees must be given their schedules at least seven days in advance.
- Starting in July 2020, schedules are due two weeks in advance.
- Employers are required to pay employees for shift changes within the one-week threshold.
- For added shifts, employers owe an extra hour of pay.
- For cancelled shifts, employers owe half the wages for scheduled hours.
- “Clopens” are a no-go, since employees are entitled to a 10-hour rest period between shifts.
- Employees can work a “clopen” if given time-and-a-half pay for any hours not separated by a 10-hour break, and if they consent to the shift.
- Employees must be allowed to request shifts and shift changes.
- However, employers are under no obligation to accommodate these requests.
- New employees are entitled to a “good faith” estimate of their hours on or before their starting date.
- The law only applies to restaurants with 500+ employees worldwide.
- The law only applies to hourly employees.
The good news for Oregon restaurants as a result of this law? A happier, better rested, and more productive staff. This morale boost often translates to more revenue, as businesses that implemented some of the policies found in fair workweek laws saw sales increase by 7%.
The bad news? Failure to comply isn’t cheap, and even when you’re following the law, you may still have to pay higher labor costs than you would have before this law was passed. Oregon restaurateurs could face a $1,000 fine for violating each instance of a regulation outlined in the law, including making employees work “clopens”, not compensating for last-minute changes, and not providing schedules in advance.
Fair workweek and predictive scheduling are still a relatively new initiative for established restaurateurs, but that’s no excuse to not be compliant. To avoid issues down the line, check out our more in-depth rundown and helpful tips in our all-encompassing guide on the movement.
Using Technology to Help You Stay Compliant
Oregon’s strict restaurant labor laws can seem like a lot to deal with, but keep in mind that they’re in place to protect your workers, and ultimately, your business. Not only do these laws ensure employees more financial security and a healthier work-life balance, they also increase your workers’ productivity, which has direct ramifications on how they perform on the job.
But knowing that doesn’t diminish the reality: complying with these laws takes work, effort, and process. That’s where technology comes in to save the day.
Restaurant technology—in particular, restaurant labor management software—can help you stay compliant, follow the rules, and keep your labor costs under control.
7shifts employee scheduling software is completely equipped to help Oregon restaurants stay compliant. A few features of 7shifts that keep costs down for restaurateurs include:
- Flexible scheduling: So you can build schedules with a drag and a drop, and even utilize sales data from your integrated POS system to staff each shift accordingly.
- Overtime alerts: So you can minimize your time-and-a-half pay, and not get caught in hot water when someone comes to you with an overtime claim that you didn’t realize you set him up for.
- Electronic schedule sharing: So employees can easily access their schedule seven days (and soon, 14 days) ahead of their shifts.
- Shift swapping: So employees can volunteer to take shifts, meaning you don’t have to cover premium or predictability pay. Managers can also approve these shift swaps to ensure no penalties are incurred on the restaurant’s end.
- "Clopen" alerts: So you can give employees the rest between shifts that they need—and avoid being fined.
- Maintained compliance record: So you can keep documentation of your compliance if you ever need to prove it.
7shifts keeps Oregon restaurants compliant when it comes to labor laws, and you can try it in your restaurant for free. Click here for a free demo of 7shifts and see why tens of thousands of restaurants rely on it to help their businesses and their staff thrive.