Oregon Labor Laws

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, or BOLI, governs all labor laws in the state. BOLI works to protect the rights of workers, ensure non-discriminatory treatment and enforce compliance with state laws relating to wages, hours, and conditions of employment. They also spend time educating and training employers about wages, hours, and civil rights laws.

Oregon Labor Law Breaks

In Oregon, every employee must be given 1-1/2 hour meal breaks, free from all work obligations, for every 6- to 8-hour shift. For work spans of 7 hours or less, the meal break should occur between the second and fifth hour, and for longer work periods, it should occur between the third and sixth hour.

Where the employer can demonstrate that such a paid meal interval is standard practice or practice of the industry, a break period of less than half an hour but not less than 20 minutes is permitted, with compensation and relief from all tasks.

A meal break with compensation while on duty must be permitted for each 6- to 8-hour work period unless the employer can demonstrate that the nature of the employment forbids relief from all duties.

A rest period must be taken apart from the customary mealtime and in addition to it. It cannot be taken away from the beginning or end of a work session to shorten the overall length of the workday or added to the customary meal break.

When the employer can demonstrate that the employee has actually got the allotted time, that is adequate proof of compliance in the absence of regularly planned rest breaks. Only where the employer can demonstrate that the regular nature of the employment prohibits the employer from establishing and keeping a regularly planned rest period is this allowed.

Employees who work alone in a retail or service establishment that caters to the general public, age 18 and older, and who put in less than 5 hours over the course of a 16-hour period, are exempt from the requirement for a rest interval.

How much am I gonna get? (Wages)

The minimum wage in Oregon as of January 1st, 2009 is $8.40. This wage will be in effect until December 31st, 2010. Oregon law requires the minimum wage to be adjusted annually to account for inflation. This adjustment will differ from year to year and is announced by September 30th.


Any hours worked in excess of forty in a given week must be paid at one and a half times the employee’s regular rate. No matter what your employer tells you payment of overtime is required by law and cannot be waived through any sort of agreement. Time off in lieu of overtime pay must be taken in the same work week.

Some employees are exempt from overtime regulations because of the nature of their position. This list includes salespeople, mechanics, truck drivers, seamen, and workers in the motion picture industry. For a full list of exemptions, or to determine if you are exempt contact an attorney or the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

Maternity Leave

The Oregon Family Leave Act deals with maternity leave and other types of leave involving family issues.

There is no law that requires an employer to pay for time off before or after childbirth. The law is in place to protect your job during the time you are away. An eligible female employee can take up to thirty-six weeks of leave for childbirth. However, this must be taken under three separate twelve-week classifications that you must qualify for. They are pregnancy disability leave, parental leave, and sick child leave. This leave can be taken before, during, or after childbirth in any proportion. The only stipulation is that the thirty-six weeks must be taken within a twelve-month period.

Nursing on the Job

Something you may not know? Upon returning to work after giving birth employers with twenty-five or more employees are required to give all Mothers who are breastfeeding a child 18 months or younger unpaid rest periods of at least thirty minutes for every four hours worked.

Working while under the age of eighteen

Individuals as young as fourteen can be employed in Oregon, but under more strict guidelines. Each underage employee does not require a permit (the employer’s permit covers all underage employees for his/her business). All laws covering wages, overtime, and any other basic employee rights apply to employees under the age of eighteen.

Some of the restrictions that apply to underage employees include guidelines on the number of hours a person under the age of 16 can work and an expanded break schedule.


BOLI runs programs designed to field a highly-skilled, competitive workforce. This includes many different types of apprenticeships. To learn more about these programs or to apply, contact your local office of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.