Oregon Equal Pay Bonus Exemptions Set to Expire Soon

By Jordan Jeter

Oregon’s Equal Pay Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of a protected class in the payment of wages or other compensation for work of a comparable character. Compensation broadly includes wages, salary, bonuses, benefits, fringe benefits, and equity-based compensation.

Starting September 28, 2022, the temporary exceptions for hiring and retention bonuses under the Equal Pay Act no longer apply. Employers who have been using hiring and retention bonuses must again consider those compensation subject to equal pay.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent labor shortage, the Equal Pay Act was amended to include temporary exceptions to the definition of “compensation.” Those exceptions included retention bonuses offered to employees and hiring bonuses offered to prospective employees. Because those exceptions were temporary, they automatically expire after the 180th day following the termination of the state of emergency, which ended on April 1, 2022.

Employers should review their current practice of paying signing or retention bonuses prior to the September 28, 2022 exemption expiration date. Employers may consider other means of attracting candidates and retaining their current staff through flexible workplace policies such as remote or hybrid work arrangements. If you have any questions about your obligations under the Equal Pay Act or about non-monetary ways to attract and retain talented employees, please contact your employment counsel.

This update is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have questions about the issues raised here, please contact any of the attorneys in our Labor & Employment Practice Group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.

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