Oklahoma Labor Laws

Oklahoma Labor Law Breaks

Regarding rest periods for workers 16 years of age and older, Oklahoma falls back on federal law. Only if it lasts less than 20 minutes must a meal break be paid if an employer wishes to offer one. As long as the employee is entirely relieved of all obligations, breaks longer than 30 minutes are considered meal intervals and do not require payment. For employees under the age of 16, at least 30 minutes for every five hours worked and an hour for every eight hours worked.

Oklahoma Minimum Wage

As the federal minimum wage increased in 2009, Oklahoma increased its minimum wage to seven dollars and twenty-five cents — the federal minimum — from six dollars and fifty-five cents. Over three years the federal minimum wage had increased steadily to compensate for the increase in food prices, taxes, mortgage rates, and other personal financial expenses.

Over this time period, Oklahoma raised its minimum wage by two dollars and ten cents. When the federal minimum wage was increased all states were required to raise their minimums or exceed the minimum. Some states even are a dollar or more above the federal minimum, such as Washington and Oregon. Unlike other states that raise their rates each year, despite the federal requirement to do so, Oklahoma does not raise its rates unless required.

The minimum wage requirement states that an individual must be paid this wage or more and no less, according to law. The only instance where employees may be paid less is when they are tipped regularly. Under this law, if an employee acquires more than thirty dollars in tips a month, he or she can be paid as little as two or three dollars an hour. Also under this law, an employee is not required to share his or her tips with a salary-paid manager. When tips are acquired en mass, the employees are required to split the earnings at the end of the shift.

Personal Leave

Rather than create its own law for family and medical leave, Oklahoma instead uses the federal law of the Family and Medical Leave Act. This 1993 act allows employees to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave without the risk of termination. An employee cannot be terminated for needing to take family or medical leave. However, an individual on leave will not be exempt from termination if the business or company where he or she is employed is terminating individuals due to financial reasons.

Maternity leave is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act and includes caring for a newborn and bonding with newly adopted children. Paternity leave can also be an option in some cases. These twelve weeks are offered each year and cannot be spread out over several months’ time.

An employer has the right to hire a temporary employee to replace the individual on leave but is then required by law to terminate that employee when the full-time employee returns. Employees on leave are not required to take the entire twelve weeks of leave, such as for maternity leave, but employers also have the right to disallow an employee to return early. An employer can also deny an individual’s request to work part-time before the twelve weeks are complete.


Oklahoma uses federal laws in regard to vacation time. Under federal law, if a company or business states in written form that vacation time is to be provided, the company or business must honor the agreement. An employer has the right to change company or business policy whenever he or she desires and may do so without employee consent. However, if this benefit is eliminated, a majority of the time employees with be notified in advance.

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