Effective January 2018, new Oregon employment laws apply to many workers in mills, factories, and manufacturing establishments. Key takeaways are outlined in this advisory.

Please keep in mind that only certain workplaces and only certain employees are covered by these laws. Businesses should determine if their workplace is governed by this law (For example: if the business is a “manufacturing establishment” because it uses machinery to transform something into a new product). Businesses should also determine which employees are subject to the new rules as some workers are not covered. Although the law refers to “exempt” and “nonexempt” workers, those terms are defined differently than those same “exempt” and ”nonexempt” terms when used in other wage and hour laws.

Certain canneries, driers, and packing plants are also covered by largely similar regulations under another Oregon law.

Maximum Hours Per Week

Under a new general rule, an employer cannot require or permit a covered employee to work more than 55 hours per workweek. There are two exceptions.

First, an employer may allow an employee to work up to 60 hours per workweek, if the employee voluntarily consents. BOLI consent forms can be found here, or businesses may draft similar forms for review by counsel. Employees can withdraw consent with 7 days’ written notice.

Second, an employer may allow an employee to work up to 80 or 84 hours for a limited period, if the employee voluntarily consents and the employer has an undue hardship related to perishable goods. To qualify, the employer must not only get the employee’s written consent, but must also give formal notice to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) within 7 days. Under this exception, consenting employees can work additional hours during up to 21 hardship weeks in a calendar year. Of those 21 weeks, up to 4 weeks can include employees working up to 84 hours per workweek, and the remainder can be up to 80 hours per workweek. Forms are available here.

Coercion is prohibited. That means employers may not pressure employees into consenting to anything higher than 55 hours per workweek. Businesses also cannot require job applicants to agree to work more than 55 hours per week in order to qualify for the job. It is also unlawful to allow any employee to work more hours than allowed by law, even if the employee agrees—for example, a covered employee may not work 65 hours per week (outside an undue hardship perishable exemption period) even if he or she wants to do so. This is not a complete list; consult legal counsel to review specific business practices. Violations can bring civil lawsuits with attorney fees, and civil penalties per violation by the Bureau of Labor and Industries.

Remember that these work restrictions do not apply to employees legally exempt from this specific state law. Exemptions apply to employees including qualifying managers, those with certain “primary duties” other than actual manufacturing like security guards and repairpersons, and others. For more information, see BOLI regulations at and consult legal counsel for specific advice about these exemptions.

Mandatory Rest Period Between Shifts

Another new requirement for those same employees covered by this law is providing a minimum 10 hours off work if the previous shift was 8 hours or longer. There are exceptions to this mandated rest period for emergencies like major equipment breakdowns.

Daily/Weekly Overtime Pay and Maximum Daily Hours Is Still the Law

The daily overtime and maximum hour rules for covered manufacturing employees still remains law. Covered employees qualify for daily overtime pay when working more than 10 hours (up to the maximum 13 hours) in a workday. To calculate pay, the employer will calculate both daily and weekly overtime, and then pay whichever is higher. The employer does not need to pay both.

Steps for Compliance and Advance Planning

1. Which employees are covered? Businesses should first review which employees are covered by the above laws, to ensure these rules are applied to the right people—not too many or too few. Legal counsel is strongly encouraged, including keeping any audit or review attorney-client privileged.

2. Review Schedules. Employers who review and forecast schedules will be positioned to identify adjustments needed to provide required rest periods and meet maximum hour caps, and to determine if the workload can be managed with a 55-hour workweek cap or if the company will request voluntary consent for higher hours or consider other options. Employers will need to understand their legal “workweek” to make these decisions. 

3. Train Managers. Advance planning, training managers and supervisors, and strategy setting is key, to ensure that consent is properly requested—not pressured or forced—and to allow time for a back-up plan if too few employees are willing to consent and the company needs to consider temporary help or other measures. Understanding ahead of time when perishable goods may be at issue—potentially qualifying the company for up to 21 weeks of an undue hardship—will help reduce last-minute rushes to identify employees willing to consent, find extra workers if needed, and complete BOLI paperwork.

4. Recordkeeping Compliance. Employers will also need to comply with recordkeeping requirements. Maintaining consent forms and withdrawals in an orderly way should allow for easier adjustments during busy periods, and reduce the risk of improperly scheduling an employee who has not given consent or has withdrawn consent.