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Employer’s Guide to the Oregon Minimum Wage

9 min read
Oregon minimum wage

Understanding the Oregon minimum wage is essential for employers operating within the state. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of the Oregon minimum wage, including its history, current minimum wage rates, exemptions, special cases, and additional wage laws that employers need to be aware of. We will also share practical tips and strategies to help you comply with state requirements and build a happy and productive workforce.

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How Does the Minimum Wage Work in the US?

The minimum wage in the United States operates under a combination of federal, state, and sometimes local laws. This multi-tiered approach to minimum wage laws aims to balance the need for a national wage floor with the economic and living cost variations across states and localities.

Here’s an overview of how it works.

Federal Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage in the United States is established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and it is the baseline hourly wage for employees across the country. The current rate, enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, is $7.25 per hour. This federal minimum, effective since 2009, serves as the lowest legal hourly rate that employers can pay their workforce, ensuring a basic wage standard nationwide. However, it’s important to note that the federal minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation, and there have been discussions and proposals to increase it.

State Minimum Wage

In addition to the federal minimum wage, individual states have the authority to set their own minimum wage laws. These rates vary significantly across the country, reflecting the diverse economic and living conditions in different states. As of 2024, many states have minimum wages higher than the federal rate. In cases where a state’s minimum wage is higher, employers in that state are obligated to pay the higher state minimum. Conversely, if a state has not set a minimum wage, or if it’s lower than the federal minimum, the federal rate prevails. States also have their own departments or agencies responsible for the enforcement of these laws. For example, the Oregon minimum wage is enforced by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).

Local Minimum Wage

In addition to federal and state levels, some cities and counties have established their own minimum wage ordinances, often in response to higher local living costs. These local minimum wages can be higher than both the state and federal minimums. High-cost-of-living areas, such as San Francisco and New York City, are notable examples where local minimum wages exceed both state and federal levels. Employers in these jurisdictions must comply with the local minimum wage laws, which are typically enforced by local labor departments or similar agencies. This multi-tiered system ensures that workers in areas with higher living costs receive a wage that better aligns with those costs.

History of the Oregon Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Oregon, often referred to as the OR minimum wage, has undergone several significant changes, each marking a milestone in the state’s labor history. These changes are not just about numbers; they represent Oregon’s ongoing effort to balance the needs of workers with the economic realities of employers.

Here’s a timeline highlighting key milestones in the history of the Oregon minimum wage:

  • 1913: Oregon introduces one of the nation’s first state minimum wage laws, initially covering women and minors.
  • 1968: The Oregon hourly wage sees a significant change, aligning with federal standards.
  • 1989: Oregon introduces a separate, higher state minimum wage, distinct from the federal rate.
  • 2002: Voters approve Measure 25, leading to an Oregon minimum wage increase tied to the Consumer Price Index.
  • 2016: A landmark bill is passed, introducing a tiered minimum wage system based on geographic regions within the state.
  • 2019-2020: Oregon sees progressive annual increases in its minimum wage, reflecting the state’s commitment to a living wage.
  • 2022-2023: Further increases are implemented, with the Oregon state minimum wage adjusted according to inflation and regional economic differences.

Each of these milestones represents a pivotal moment in the journey of the minimum wage in Oregon, underscoring the state’s proactive approach to labor rights and economic welfare.

Oregon Minimum Wage Rates

So, what is the current minimum wage in Oregon? Is the minimum wage going up in 2024?

As of 2024, the Oregon minimum wage rates continue to reflect the state’s commitment to fair compensation, with variations based on geographic location. Notably, Oregon’s approach to tipped workers differs from many other states.

As of 2024, the Oregon minimum wage for untipped workers has been structured to accommodate the varying economic landscapes across the state. Oregon’s approach is unique in that it sets different minimum wage rates based on geographic regions, recognizing the diverse cost of living and economic conditions within the state. This system ensures a more equitable wage standard that is more reflective of the local economic realities.

Portland Metro Area

In this region, which typically faces higher living costs, the minimum wage is set at the highest rate within the state. This reflects the need to provide a livable wage in an urban environment with typically higher expenses. The Portland Metro minimum wage is currently set at $15.45 per hour. This rate applies within the urban growth boundary, including parts of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties.

Standard Counties

These areas, which encompass most of the state’s population outside the Portland Metro area, have a minimum wage rate that is set at a moderate level. It balances the lower cost of living compared to Portland Metro, while still ensuring a fair wage for workers. The Oregon minimum wage rate for standard counties is currently set at $14.20 per hour. This covers Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Yamhill, and parts of Clackamas, Multnomah, & Washington outside the urban growth boundary.

Nonurban Counties

Recognizing the lower cost of living in these regions, the minimum wage is set at a lower rate compared to Portland Metro and standard counties. This adjustment helps to address the economic conditions of Oregon’s more rural areas. The Nonurban minimum wage in Oregon is currently set at $13.20 per hour. This rate is for Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler Counties.

Overall, the 2024 Oregon minimum wage rates for untipped workers show the state’s effort to address the economic and living cost disparities across different regions, ensuring a fair and sustainable wage system for all workers in the state.

Tipped Workers

Finally, Oregon stands out for its treatment of tipped workers. Unlike many other states, Oregon does not have a separate, lower minimum wage for employees who receive tips. Instead, tipped workers in Oregon are entitled to the same minimum wage as untipped workers. This means a waiter in Portland, a bartender in Eugene, or a bellhop in Bend must all be paid the full state or local minimum wage, irrespective of the tips they earn.

Exemptions and Special Cases

Despite the above, certain exemptions and special cases exist regarding Oregon minimum wage laws.

These include:

  • Young Workers and Student Learners. Special wage rates apply to workers under a certain age or student learners. These rates are typically lower than the standard minimum wage, acknowledging the educational aspect of their employment.
  • Workers with Disabilities. Oregon law permits certain employers to pay workers with disabilities a subminimum wage rate under specific conditions. This is designed to facilitate employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
  • Apprentices and Trainees. Apprenticeship programs or certain training positions might have different wage standards. These rates can be less than the standard minimum wage, recognizing the training and skill development aspect of these roles.
  • Small Businesses. Small businesses that meet specific criteria, such as having a limited number of employees or lower annual revenue, might be subject to different wage rules or exemptions.
  • Interns and Volunteers. Interns, particularly in non-profit or educational settings, and volunteers are often exempt from minimum wage requirements, as their roles are primarily for training or charitable purposes.
  • Agricultural Workers. Finally, the agricultural sector has distinct wage rules and exemptions, reflecting the seasonal and varied nature of this work.

The above exemptions to the Oregon minimum wage are crucial for employers to understand to ensure compliance with the state’s labor laws. For detailed information on rates and conditions of these exemptions, employers should refer to the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries.

Additional Oregon Wage Laws

Aside from the Oregon minimum wage, there are several additional wage laws that employers in the Beaver State need to be aware of.

So, what are these laws?

Here’s everything you need to know.


  • Overtime Rate. Firstly, Oregon requires employers to offer overtime pay of 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate for any hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek (time and a half). This applies to most non-exempt employees.
  • Exemptions. Secondly, keep in mind that certain classes of employees are exempt from overtime. This includes certain executive, administrative, and professional workers. It also includes certain farmworkers and commissioned salespeople.
  • Rest Periods. While not directly related to overtime, Oregon mandates a 30-minute uninterrupted rest period for every 8 consecutive hours worked.

Recordkeeping and Timekeeping

  • Records. Employers must maintain accurate records of employee hours worked, pay rate, overtime payments, deductions, and other pertinent information for at least three years.
  • Payroll Statements. Employees must receive clear and detailed payroll statements every pay period, specifying hours worked, pay rate, deductions, and net pay.
  • Timekeeping Systems. Employers may use computerized timekeeping systems, but they must be accurate and reliable. Manual timekeeping records are also acceptable but should be meticulously maintained.

Wage Garnishment

  • Limitations. Oregon restricts the amount of an employee’s disposable earnings that employers can garnish for debts, with exemptions for child support and certain court-ordered debts.
  • Written Notice. Employers must be notified in writing by the creditor before initiating garnishment.
  • Employee Protections. Employers cannot fire or take adverse action against an employee due to wage garnishment.

Equal Pay

  • Oregon Equal Pay Act. Aligned with the federal Equal Pay Act, this law prohibits pay discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status, disability, or age.
  • Equal Work. Employees performing substantially equal work under similar working conditions must receive equal pay, regardless of protected characteristics. This is known as pay parity.
  • Exceptions. Certain exceptions exist for bona fide factors other than protected characteristics, such as seniority, merit, or quantity or quality of production.

Additional Oregon Wage Laws

  • Wage Theft. It is illegal for employers to withhold earned wages or engage in practices like misclassification of employees or manipulating time records.
  • Sick Leave. Oregon requires all employers with 10 or more employees to provide paid sick leave. Employees generally accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year. This leave can be used for their own illness, family illness, or preventive care.
  • Family Leave. Oregon also offers unpaid family leave under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA). Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave per year to care for a new child, a seriously ill family member, or their own serious illness. Employers with 10 or more employees must comply with OFLA, while smaller employers may choose to provide similar benefits voluntarily.
  • Wage Transparency. Oregon has recently adopted a pay transparency law requiring employers to disclose wage ranges for open positions upon request during the job application process or interview. This aims to promote salary fairness and combat gender and racial pay gaps.
  • Independent Contractor Classification. Accurately classifying workers as employees or independent contractors is crucial to adhering to wage and benefit laws. Oregon has specific criteria for determining employee status, and misclassification can lead to significant penalties.
  • Meal Break Deductions. While employers do not legally have to provide meal breaks in Oregon, they cannot deduct pay from employees during meal breaks that are truly free from work duties. If an employee performs any work during a meal break, you must pay them.

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Practical Strategies for Oregon Wage Law Compliance

Ensuring compliance with Oregon wage laws is crucial for businesses to avoid legal complications and maintain a fair workplace.

So, what’s the key to success?

Here are some practical strategies to help you comply with the state’s wage laws:

  • Educate Yourself and Your Team. Firstly, regularly review and stay updated on Oregon’s wage laws. This includes understanding changes to the Oregon minimum wage, overtime rules, and other wage-related regulations. Keeping your HR and management teams informed is crucial.
  • Implement Robust Record-Keeping Practices. Secondly, accurately document hours worked, wages paid, and other pertinent employee information. The best solution for this is using employee record management software. Ensure that these records are easily accessible and stored for the required duration.
  • Develop Clear Wage and Hour Policies. Thirdly, establish and communicate clear policies regarding wages, overtime, breaks, and other relevant issues. Make sure these policies are understood by all employees and included in your employee handbook.
  • Conduct Regular Internal Audits. In addition, periodically review your wage and hour practices to ensure compliance. This includes checking that employees are correctly classified and paid.
  • Train Employees on Timekeeping. Moreover, make sure you train all employees in proper timekeeping methods, especially those responsible for logging their hours.
  • Stay Proactive. Finally, regularly update your policies and practices in response to legal changes and internal audits. Being proactive helps avoid potential legal issues.

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How Factorial Can Help You Comply with Oregon’s Wage Laws

Factorial can be a valuable tool for employers in Oregon seeking to comply with the state’s wage laws.

Here’s how our comprehensive HR software can help you:

  • Payroll Software. Firstly, the platform offers payroll software solutions, streamlining the process of managing payroll and ensuring compliance with Oregon’s minimum wage laws.
  • Holiday Pay and Pay Period Management. Secondly, Factorial helps you manage holiday pay and keep track of your pay periods, ensuring you pay your employees correctly and on time.
  • Real-Time Overtime Tracking. Thirdly, Factorial’s time tracking feature enables real-time monitoring of overtime hours worked by non-exempt employees. This allows you to identify and address any overtime issues promptly, ensuring compliance with Oregon’s overtime pay regulations.
  • Electronic Time Clock. In addition, Factorial’s electronic time clock feature ensures that your employees accurately record their hours worked, including breaks. That way, you can rest assured that you meet all time-tracking legal requirements.
  • Employee Handbook. Moreover, managers can use Factorial to create and distribute an employee handbook. That way, you can ensure your staff are up to date with all company policies, including wage and hour regulations.
  • Employee Record Management Software. Furthermore, the software effectively stores and manages employee records, making it easier to maintain compliance with Oregon recordkeeping requirements.
  • Comprehensive Payroll Reporting. In addition, Factorial generates detailed payroll reports, providing valuable insights into employee compensation, overtime trends, and overall payroll expenses.
  • Secure Payroll Processing. Finally, Factorial employs robust payroll security measures to safeguard sensitive employee data.

Ultimately, by leveraging these features, businesses can more easily navigate the complexities of Oregon’s wage laws, from ensuring proper payment according to the Oregon minimum wage to meeting timekeeping, overtime, and recordkeeping requirements.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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