The New Year has arrived! This means that all the statutory changes we discussed in our last two issues are now in full effect. In addition to reviewing and familiarizing your business with these changes, it may be a good idea to ensure your payroll system is up to date.
Electronic Payment of Wages
As you may already know, Oregon employers may pay wages through a direct deposit system, automated teller machine card, payroll card or other means of electronic transfer. If your business already utilizes electronic payment of wages or you are considering using this method, there are a few things that must occur for the payment to comply with Oregon laws:
The employer and the employee must have an agreement that electronic payment of wages is acceptable;
The agreement must be in the language that the employer principally uses to communicate with the employee (i.e. English or Spanish);
The employee must either (a) have access to the entire amount of net pay without cost or (b) be able to choose a different payment method that involves no cost to the employee.
Employees are allowed to revoke agreements for electronic payment of wages. To do so, the employee must give the employer a written notice of revocation, effective 30 days after the date the employer receives this notice. Seasonal workers and workers employed in packing, canning, freezing or drying agricultural crops may give oral notice of revocation. For these workers, revocation is effective 10 days after the date the employer receives this notice. Finally, note that Oregon laws provide civil penalties for violations of these rules.
Oregon employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee because the employee has made or inquired about a wage claim. Starting on January 1, 2008, a violation of this rule constitutes an unlawful employment practice. Furthermore, starting on January 1, 2008, it is an unlawful employment practice to discharge or discriminate against an employee who has complained that he or she has not been paid wages. The courts have authority to grant compensatory damages or $200, whichever is greater, to prevailing employees.