Oregon’s new minimum wage law, signed by Governor Brown on March 2, 2016, received a lot of press during the 2016 legislative session.  This new law establishes a tiered system for determination of the minimum wage based on the location of the employer.  The minimum wage will increase annually on July 1 of each year, with the first increase (from $9.25 to $9.50 in rural areas and to $9.75 everywhere else) taking place this year.  By 2022, Oregon’s minimum wage will increase to $14.75 inside Portland’s urban growth boundary, $13.50 in midsize counties, and $12.50 in rural areas. The full text of the enrolled Senate bill is available here.

With minimum wage receiving all of the attention, Oregon employers may have missed other employment-related bills.  Here are the bills that passed during the 2016 Oregon Legislative Session and those that failed (but we might see again in the future).

SB 1587: Heightened Requirements for Itemized Pay Statements

Thanks to SB 1587 employers must provide more information in the payroll statement provided to employees each pay period.  The full text of the enrolled Senate bill is available here.

Starting January 1, 2017, in addition to the already existing requirement that payroll statements be sufficiently itemized to show the amount and purpose of deductions, payroll statements must include:

  • Date of payment
  • Date of work covered by the payment
  • Employee’s name
  • Employer’s name and business registry number or business identification number
  • Employer’s address and telephone number
  • Rate or rates of pay
  • Whether the employee is paid by the hour, shift, day, or week or on a salary, piece, or commission basis
  • Gross wages
  • Net wages
  • Allowances, if any, claimed as part of minimum wage
  • Unless the employee receives a salary and is exempt from the minimum wage and overtime laws, the regular hourly rate or rates of pay, the overtime rate or rates of pay, the number of regular hours worked and pay for those hours, and the number of overtime hours worked and the pay for those hours
  • For employees who are paid a piece rate, the applicable piece rate or rates of pay, the number of pieces completed at each piece rate, and the total pay for each rate

Employers may provide the itemized statement in electronic form as long as it contains all the required information, the employee expressly agrees to receive the statement in electronic form, and the employee has the ability to print or store the statement at the time of receipt.

The new law also requires time and pay records to be kept for three years after the date of termination and to be made available to the employee for inspection upon request.

HB 4067: Whistleblower Disclosure Protections for Public and Nonprofit Employees

HB 4067 was conceived in the wake of Governor John Kitzhaber’s resignation last year.  It gives public and nonprofit employees some of the same protection that employees of publicly traded companies receive under the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  The full text of the bill is available here.

The law, which becomes effective January 1, 2017, provides an affirmative defense for public and nonprofit employees who are facing civil or criminal charges related to the disclosure of lawfully accessed confidential information.  The affirmative defense applies if the employee has a good faith and objectively reasonable belief of a violation of law and discloses the information to (1) a state or federal regulatory agency; (2) a law enforcement agency; (3) a manager employed by the public or nonprofit employer; or (4) a licensed attorney, if the disclosure is made in furtherance of the rendition of professional legal services.

HB 4067 also expands ORS 659A.203 (protections for public employees) to make it an unlawful employment practice for a covered nonprofit employer (defined as an organization that receives public funds by way of grant or contract and is exempt from income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code) to discharge or otherwise discipline an employee for making such a disclosure of information.

Public and nonprofit employers are also required to develop a policy that describes an employee’s rights and remedies under the bill and to distribute the policy in either written or electronic form to each employee.

Bills That Did Not Pass

The following employment-related bills did not pass during the 2016 Oregon Legislative Session, but we may see them again in future legislative sessions.

  • SB 1581, SB 1594, and HB 4139: Would make various amendments to Oregon’s paid sick leave law that was passed last year.
  • SB 1525: Would exclude sick leave pay from the definition of “payroll” for purposes of workers’ compensation calculations.
  • SB 1555: Would allow polygraph testing as a condition of employment for preemployment screening of law enforcement officers, subject to an applicable CBA.
  • HB 4052: Would prohibit an employer or insurer from requiring an injured worker to obtain nonemergency medical services from a specific medical provider.
  • HB 4088: Would make it an unlawful employment practice to discriminate against an applicant or employee on the basis of status as a caregiver to a family member, including an applicant’s or employee’s potential to become a caregiver.

Stay tuned!