OTA Dispatch Issue 4, 2022

24 Oregon Trucking Association, Inc. Oregon Truck Dispatch Pay Equity & Hiring Bonuses: What Oregon Employers Need to Know AS THE COVID-19 pandemic developed, the Oregon legislature amended the definition of “compensation” in the Oregon Equal Pay Act (EPA) to temporarily exempt hiring/signing and retention bonuses from the limitations imposed by the Act. The temporary exemption, however, expired on September 28, 2022. Hiring bonuses have long been a useful tool for the trucking industry to recruit drivers, technicians, and other employees. Performance bonuses are often used to retain skilled employees. Now that hiring/signing/retention bonuses are again considered “compensation” under the Act, what steps must employers take to still use these methods to attract and keep workers? Short answer: Employers must ensure that employees performing “work of comparable character” receive equal “compensation,” unless the difference is justified by specific “bona fide factors” listed in the statute. Essentially, if one employee receives a bonus but another does not, an employer must be able to distinguish between the two employees either on the grounds that they are not performing “work of comparable character” or by one of the specific “bona fide factors” in the Act. What exactly is considered “compensation” now? Pretty much everything. Compensation includes an employee’s wages, salary, bonuses (including hiring and retention), benefits (including extra PTO), and equity awards. So, does this spell the end for hiring bonuses? OTA invited members to a special webinar with Kathryn P. Roberts from Markowitz Herbold to find out. Some highlights are covered here, but members can also watch the recorded webinar or review the presentation in the memberonly section on the OTA website. Key Aspects of Oregon’s EPA ` Employers must provide same pay and benefits to all employees performing work of comparable character, unless justified by a bona fide factor (no catch all) ` Employers cannot ask about or set compensation based on prior pay, even if the employee volunteers the information ` Employers may only increase pay to comply with the law ` Employers cannot retaliate for conduct related to this law ` Employees have one year to assert a claim (measured from each discriminatory paycheck) `Applies to all employers in Oregon and all employees who work in Oregon, were hired in Oregon, or are paid in Oregon