Restaurant Labor Laws Cheat Sheet: Oregon State

Restaurant Labor Laws Cheat Sheet: Oregon State
AJ Beltis

By AJ Beltis

Date of Publishing: February 14, 2024

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and businesses should consider whether the information is appropriate to their needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are based on 7shifts' interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional legal advice. 7shifts is not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article and no warranty is made by 7shifts concerning the suitability, accuracy or timeliness of the content of any site that may be linked to this article. 7shifts disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on the information contained in this article.

For the most up to date information, please visit this Oregon state resource.

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 have to ensure you’re 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.

Doing wrong by your restaurant employees isn’t a wise financial move. In 2018, one Oregon restaurant was fined over $375,000 for keeping employees’ tips.

Oregon Employee Pay Regulations

Oregon Minimum Wage

Oregon’s minimum wage varies in each part of the state.

Currently, the state’s minimum wage until June 30, 2024 is:

  • $15.45 for Portland and the Portland Urban Growth Boundary.
  • $14.20 for the “standard” minimum wage.
  • $13.20 for “nonurban” counties.

The jury’s still out on whether the minimum wage will go up this year. Every year on April 30th, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) calculates whether the minimum wage rate will change on July 1st.

Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees

Oregon does not allow a tip credit, meaning employers must pay tipped employees the same minimum wage as non-tipped employees, regardless of what tips they receive.

Overtime Pay

Hourly employees should receive time-and-a-half pay for all hours they work over 40 hours. Note that employees cannot waive this in exchange for more shifts, so avoid making that a condition when offering extra hours to employees.

To avoid paying unnecessary overtime, use a restaurant scheduling software with overtime alerts so you’ll know to rearrange your schedule. Otherwise, you run the risk of incorrectly documenting employees’ overtime history, which could come back to bite you with back pay and fines.

Charging Employees and Wage Deductions

Oregon employers cannot charge restaurant employees for any items required for the job, such as employee uniforms. Additionally, employers cannot charge for cash register shortages or broken/damaged property.

However, if you believe an employee destroyed property in an act of negligence, you can take legal action.

Oregon Employee Time Off and Benefit Regulations

Meal Breaks

Oregon restaurant employees should get a 30-minute meal break for any shift that is six or more hours. You don’t need to pay them as long as the employee is fully relieved of their duties during said break.

If an employee still has to work through their meal period, 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:

  • Six to seven hours: 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.

Rest Breaks

Oregon restaurant employees should receive a ten-minute break for shifts between two and six hours, and two ten-minute breaks for shifts between six and ten hours.

Keep in mind that this break is separate from the meal break. If an employee works an eight hour shift, she gets one unpaid meal break for 30 minutes and two paid 10-minute rest breaks. It makes sense to prepare for when these breaks will occur for each employee so you’re not forced to allow multiple employees on break at the same time.

You may also want to use a break alerts software so managers and employees know when breaks should be taken, avoid fines, and prevent employees from feeling overworked.

Vacation Benefits

Oregon restaurateurs are under no legal obligation to provide employees with vacation time.

Employers may still have a vacation policy. However, unless you explicitly state 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.

Vacation time and time off is crucial for employees to feel respected and well-rested at their jobs, so you should offer paid time off 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.

Sick Time

Unlike vacation days, Oregon does require employers to provide sick leave for employees. 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. In Portland that number goes down to restaurants 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 for employees who have worked for you for at least 90 days.

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 holiday shift puts them over 40 hours for the week).

However, like vacation time, you should make an effort to accommodate time off requests during the holidays so your staff feel appreciated and respected. Be sure to manage any time off requests well in advance of the holiday to avoid any no shows.

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 cannot take any retaliatory action (or threaten to do so) when an employee is summoned.

Jury notices tend to arrive months before the scheduled jury date, so ask employees to alert you as soon as they receive a jury summons. You can adjust your future scheduling to minimize the impact it could have on your business.

Time Off for Voting

Oregon restaurateurs are not required to provide time off for their employees to vote in elections. Many of your employees will likely choose to exercise their right to vote, so consider allowing them time off during slower times of the day. You can also send a notice a few weeks in advance to remind 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, domestic partner, or family member. 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.

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 almost 200,000 hospitality employees in Oregon are no strangers to long hours and last-minute shift changes, and this Fair Work Week Act offers many of them the chance at a healthier work-life balance.

Fast facts about the predictive scheduling laws:

  • The law only applies to restaurants with 500+ employees worldwide.
  • The law only applies to hourly employees.
  • Employees must be given their schedules at least 14 days in advance.
  • Employers must pay a penalty for schedule changes without advance notice:
    • Added or extended shifts require an extra hour of pay.
    • Modified shift start or end times where the amount of hours don’t change require an extra hour of pay.
    • Canceled or reduced shifts require half the wages for the original scheduled hours.
  • “Clopens” are a no-go, since employees must receive 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 must receive a “good faith” estimate of their hours on or before their starting date.

The good news for Oregon restaurants as a result of this law? A happier, better-rested, and more productive staff. A 2022 analysis found that Oregon industries with predictive scheduling laws had lower employee turnover and higher retention.

The bad news? Failure to comply isn’t cheap. Oregon restaurateurs could face fines of $2000 for violating these state laws. To avoid issues down the line, read our in-depth Fair Work Week 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 give employees more financial security and a healthier work-life balance, they also increase your workers’ productivity, which has a direct impact 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 team management software—can help you stay compliant, follow the rules, and keep your labor costs under control.

7shifts’ employee scheduling software is equipped to help 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.

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AJ Beltis
AJ Beltis

AJ Beltis is a freelance writer with almost a decade of experience in the restaurant industry. He currently works as a content manager at HubSpot, and previously as a blogger at Toast.