Oregon Pay Equity Update: Legislature Temporarily Amends Equal Pay Act to Allow for Hiring and Retention Bonuses and Vaccine Incentives

Stoel Rives - World of Employment
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Stoel Rives - World of Employment

The Oregon legislature recently passed HB 2818, which made several notable (and needed!) amendments to Oregon’s Equal Pay Act, including:

  • Temporarily exempting hiring bonuses offered to prospective employees and retention bonuses offered to existing employees from the definition of “compensation.” This amendment is temporary and effective only until March 1, 2022.
  • Permanently exempting vaccine incentives provided during a public health emergency from the definition of “compensation.” This includes both monetary and nonmonetary incentives, including additional paid time off.

Under existing Oregon law, employers must ensure that employees performing “work of comparable character” receive equal “compensation,” unless the difference can be justified by specific factors listed in the statute. (Read more about Oregon’s Equal Pay Act here.) By temporarily exempting hiring and retention bonuses and permanently exempting vaccine incentives from “compensation,” the legislature gave Oregon employers more leeway to award bonuses in today’s challenging environment.

If you have any questions about how Oregon’s Equal Pay Act affects your business, feel free to contact us.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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