Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon »

Hiring Your First Employees

As your business grows, you’ll probably need the extra capacity, energy and expertise that bringing on employees can provide.

On the flip side, employment is a responsibility that comes with legal obligations. A misstep here could result in a complaint or lawsuit around issues like discrimination, failure to provide leave or other required accommodations, unpaid wages and more.

Scroll through our checklist for helping you to safely navigate the road to becoming an Oregon employer.

Read the instructions.
Several state agencies (including BOLI) have contributed to the Secretary of State’s Oregon Employer’s Guide. Here you’ll find a checklist on topics like obtaining federal and state tax ID numbers, workers compensation insurance and how to file withholding and unemployment taxes. Also covered are state and federal requirements for new hires like Form I-9 and reporting new hires to the Department of Justice.

Get the poster(s).
Several state and federal laws require employers to provide employees with written notice of their rights. You never have to pay money to obtain required posters. Links to download each of the commonly required worksite posters are available from our Required Worksite Posters page or you can opt for one of our low cost all-in-one posters.

Set ground rules before you begin.
Oregon law requires all employers to have at least two policies:
  • The first is a clear policy to reduce and prevent harassment, discrimination, and sexual assault and provide notice to employees in the workplace and on other occasions. Information on the Workplace Fairness Act is available here. Employers can find a template policy here (updated for SB 1586 (2022)) as well as a template in Spanish).
  • The second is a sick leave policy that gives employees the right to earn and use protected time off to take care of themselves or their family. Check out our page on Sick Time for details.

Have a plan for the basics.
There’s a life cycle to an employment relationship. Make sure you have a plan for each phase.
  • Legal Hiring – Beyond avoiding discrimination in the hiring process, it pays to give careful consideration to identifying the specific business needs that hiring an employee will meet. Unmet or unarticulated expectations around issues like performance measures, promotional opportunities, job competencies, attendance requirements, compensation, benefits, and any number of other items have the potential to make an employment relationship “complicated” in a hurry.
  • Paydays – Wage and hour law required employers to establish a regular payday no more than 35 days apart. It’s best to determine in advance what happens when payday falls on a holiday or the weekend
  • Minimum wage, overtime and working conditions – Absent a clear exemption, most employees are entitled to minimum wage, overtime and working conditions requirements like rest breaks and meal periods.
Employer Assistance publishes deeper dive handbooks available here.

Keep an eye on your headcount.
As your employee count goes up, so too will the number of employment laws that apply to your business. The following table highlights some of the primary requirements to keep on your radar.
Employees Applicable Requirements
One or more

Requirements on regular paydays, final pay, minimum wage, overtime and working conditions requirements like rest and meal periods generally apply to all employers.

One or more

Oregon anti-discrimination and harassment provisions prohibit employment decisions based on protected classes like age, race, religion and sex (including sexual orientation and gender).

One or more

Reasonable safety accommodations for victims of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking (and coming January 1, 2024: bias crimes).

One or more

Oregon employers must provide reasonable rest periods to express breast milk for a child up to 18 months of age. Employers must also make reasonable efforts to provide an appropriate location to express milk in private. That means a place other than a public restroom or toilet stall, close to the employee's workstation concealed from view and without intrusion. (Employers with 10 or fewer employees may assert an undue hardship exemption.)

One or more

Paid Leave Oregon provides wage replacement benefits and job protected time for medical leave, family leave and safe leave.

One or more

Protected sick leave. The time is unpaid unless an employer has six or more employees anywhere in Oregon and a Portland establishment (or 10 or more anywhere in the state).

Six or more

Paid protected sick leave is required for employers with an establishment in Portland and six or more employees.

Six or more

Disability Accommodations – employers have an obligation to engage in an interactive process to identify reasonable accommodations to allow an employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of their position. Check our accommodations took kit online.

Six or more Pregnancy accommodations for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, such as lactation, unless the accommodation would cause an undue hardship.

Among other possibilities, reasonable accommodations could include:

  • Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices;
  • More frequent or longer break periods or periodic rest;
  • Assistance with manual labor
  • A reasonable period of leave; or

Modification of work schedules or job assignments.

Six or more

Workers Compensation law requires employers with six or more employees to reemploy a returning injured worker to a suitable available position.

10 or more

Paid protected sick leave. The time is unpaid unless an employer has 10 or more anywhere in the state (six or more employees anywhere in Oregon if the employer also has a Portland establishment).

21 or more

Workers Compensation law requires employers with 21 or more employees to reinstate a returning injured worker to their former position.

25 or more

Job protected leave under the Oregon Family Leave Act, including time for serious health conditions, bereavement and sick child leave.

25 or more + all public employers

Job protected time (up to 14 days) for the spouse or domestic partner of a service member who has been called to active duty or is on leave from active duty.

50 or more

Job protected leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, including time for serious health conditions and military caregiver leave.

Add us to your (virtual) Rolodex.
Employer Assistance provides confidential assistance to employers — call 971-361-8400 or email us at

Disclaimer: This website is not intended as legal advice. Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them and the law that was current when the responses were written. They are not intended to apply to any other situations. This communication is not an agency order. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.​