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Paid time

Oregon employers must compensate all “hours worked.”

This guidance clarifies what Oregon’s wage and hour laws consider to be paid time.

Unless a specific exemption applies, employees must receive at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. They must also receive at least one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 each workweek (overtime).

If you think your employer is violating this law, you can make a complaint or contact us to get help.

The law

ORS 653.010(11)

OAR 839-020-0004(19) & 839-020-0040-0047

Frequently asked questions

For workers

Wage and hour law defines “hours worked” or “work time” (meaning the time that must be paid) as the time an employee is employed by and required to give to the employer. This includes all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer's premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place and all time the employee is suffered or permitted to work. (Click here for details on rest breaks and meal periods.)

Preparatory and Concluding Activities

Preparatory and concluding activities are considered hours worked if the activities are an integral and indispensable part of a principal activity for which the employee is employed.

Some examples of these compensable activities include:

  • A server setting up a work station, i.e., preparing coffee, filling condiment jars, etc.
  • A machinist cleaning and oiling the machinery in a plant prior to closing down a workstation.
  • A bank teller counting the till before the business opens to the public.
If I have to report to work before a scheduled shift in order to facilitate a smooth transition, should I be paid for the time?

Yes. The requirement to report to work serves a clear business purpose benefiting the employer and is necessary for the smooth operation of the business.

Waiting Time

Wage and hour law divides waiting time into two categories: (1) Engaged to wait and (2) Waiting to be engaged.

Where waiting is an integral part of the job, meaning the time spent waiting belongs to and is controlled by the employer and the employee is unable to use the time effectively for their own purposes, the employee is “engaged to wait.” Employees engaged to wait need to be paid for that time as part of hours worked.

Examples here could include:

  • A factory worker who talks to fellow employees while waiting for machinery to be repaired, or
  • A repair person who waits for the client to get the premises in readiness.

Employees who are completely relieved from duty for periods which are long enough for the employee to use the time effectively for their own purposes are waiting to be engaged – this time is not paid as hours worked.

Employees are not completely relieved from duty and cannot use the time effectively for their own purposes unless they are told in advance that they may leave the job until a specified time. For example, a truck driver who is sent from Portland to Medford, leaving at 6 a.m. and arriving at noon will be paid for all this time as hours worked. Assuming the driver were then completely and specifically relieved from all duty until 6 p.m. (when the return trip begins) the down time would not be considered hours worked. The driver is waiting to be engaged for the afternoon.

Whether a period of time is long enough to enable an employee to use the time effectively for their own purposes depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of the situation.

My employer requires several of us to report to work every morning, but depending on the amount of work available, we may not all get to stay. Should we be paid for the time waiting on the premises for work?

Yes. The law requires that time spent waiting to perform work for the benefit of and at the request of the employer, be paid. Also, if you are an employee subject to Oregon’s predictive scheduling law, you should be aware that altering scheduled shifts for a given day may trigger additional compensation requirements. Be sure to click here for more information.

I install dishwashers for our clients. If have to wait on a jobsite for a customer or equipment to arrive, should I be paid for the time spent waiting?

Yes, unless you are specifically relieved from duty and the time period is sufficiently long enough to use the time for your own purposes, you are “engaged to wait” (meaning waiting is part of the work you do) and you should be paid.

On-Call Time

An employee who is required to remain on-call on the employer's premises or so close thereto that the employee cannot use the time effectively for the employee’s own purposes is working while "on-call.” An employee who is not required to remain on the employer's premises but is merely required to leave word at the employee’s home or with company officials where the employee may be reached is not working while on-call.

When should I be paid for on-call time?

That depends. If you are required to wait on the premises/very nearby to be called to duty, you need to be paid for the on-call time. An example here would be a firefighter waiting to respond to an emergency.

On the other hand, if you just need to carry a cell phone or leave a number where you can be reached, you are likely able to use the time effectively for your own purposes, despite some limitations. Your employer would not need to pay you for the time you spend available for a call.

Of course you would need to be paid for any time you perform work in response to a call. In addition, if the calls come so frequently or the conditions of on-call time are so restrictive that you cannot use the time effectively, you may be considered as “engaged to wait,” in which case the time spent waiting would be compensable.

Finally, if your employer is subject to Oregon’s predictive scheduling law, know that employers must typically pay one-half the regular rate of wage for scheduled on call hours where the employer does not ask the employee to perform work. Click here for more information on predictive scheduling requirements.

Sleep Time

Under certain circumstances hours worked may include time that an employee spends asleep.

I work nights at a 24-hour self-storage facility. The facility has a small apartment attached and employees are welcome to sleep during their shift so long as they are available to handle occasional things that come up after hours. Does the time spent asleep come out of my check?

Your answer depends on two things: the length of the shift and whether you get a reasonable opportunity for sleep.

If the shift is less than 24 hours, sleep may not be excluded from hours worked.

If the shift is 24 hours or more, you and your employer may agree to exclude up to eight hours from hours worked, provided:

  • Adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer; and
  • You can usually enjoy an uninterrupted sleep period.

If the sleeping period is interrupted by a call to duty, the time worked during an interruption of sleep must be counted as hours worked. In addition, if interruptions result in you not getting at least five continuous hours of uninterrupted time for sleep, the entire sleep period must be counted as hours worked.

Note that only eight hours can be excluded from hours worked, even if sleeping is allowed beyond eight hours. Of course, excluding sleep time from hours of work requires an agreement, so it’s best to get your arrangement in writing.

Special rules apply to employees who reside on employer’s premises and domestic workers. See OAR 839-020-0042 for the details.

Meeting / Training Time

Time spent in meetings or trainings is typically paid time. When an employer requires employee attendance, the time must be counted as hours worked, even though employees may not be performing their usual duties.

Only when all of the follow criteria are met may time spent in meetings or trainings be excluded from compensable hours worked:

  • Attendance is outside of the employee's regular working hours;
  • Attendance is voluntary;
  • The training, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee's job; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

Time employees spend on their own initiative attending an independent school, college, or independent trade school after hours is not considered hours worked for an employer, even if the courses are related to the employee's job.

Additionally, time spent in training outside regular working hours at specialized or follow-up training which is required for certification of employees by any law or ordinance does not constitute compensable hours of work, even if all or part of the cost of training is borne by the employer.

Volunteer Activities

Employees may not volunteer services to for-profit private sector employers. On the other hand, individuals may volunteer services to public sector employers and religious, charitable or similar non-profit organizations. (Note that public sector employers may not allow their employees to volunteer, without compensation, additional time to do the same work for which they are employed.)

In order for an employee to qualify as a volunteer, these four criteria must be met:

  • The work must be at the employee´s initiative.
  • The work must be outside normal or regular work hours.
  • The employee must be performing a religious, charitable or other community service without contemplation of payment.
  • The employee must be performing a task outside of the regular job functions performed for the same employer.

Note that interns are handled separately - see our page on interns for details.

Travel Time

Check out our travel time factsheet and FAQ online.

For employers

Wage and hour law defines “hours worked” or “work time” (meaning the time that must be paid) as the time an employee is employed by and required to give to the employer. This includes all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer's premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place and all time the employee is suffered or permitted to work. (Click here for details on rest breaks and meal periods.)

Preparatory and Concluding Activities

Preparatory and concluding activities are considered hours worked if the activities are an integral and indispensable part of a principal activity for which the employee is employed.

Some examples of these compensable activities include:

  • A server setting up a work station, i.e., preparing coffee, filling condiment jars, etc.
  • A machinist cleaning and oiling the machinery in a plant prior to closing down a workstation.
  • A bank teller counting the till before the business opens to the public.
If I require employees to report to work before a scheduled shift in order to facilitate a smooth transition, does that time need to be paid?

Yes. The requirement to report to work serves a clear business purpose benefiting the employer and is necessary for the smooth operation of the business.

Waiting Time

Wage and hour law divides waiting time into two categories: (1) Engaged to wait and (2) Waiting to be engaged.

Where waiting is an integral part of the job, meaning the time spent waiting belongs to and is controlled by the employer and the employee is unable to use the time effectively for their own purposes, the employee is “engaged to wait.” Employees engaged to wait need to be paid for that time as part of hours worked.

Examples here could include:

  • A factory worker who talks to fellow employees while waiting for machinery to be repaired, or
  • A repair person who waits for the client to get the premises in readiness.

Employees who are completely relieved from duty for periods which are long enough for the employee to use the time effectively for their own purposes are waiting to be engaged – this time is not paid as hours worked.

Employees are not completely relieved from duty and cannot use the time effectively for their own purposes unless they are told in advance that they may leave the job until a specified time. For example, a truck driver who is sent from Portland to Medford, leaving at 6 a.m. and arriving at noon will be paid for all this time as hours worked. Assuming the driver were then completely and specifically relieved from all duty until 6 p.m. (when the return trip begins) the down time would not be considered hours worked. The driver is waiting to be engaged for the afternoon.

Whether a period of time is long enough to enable an employee to use the time effectively for their own purposes depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of the situation.

I’m in a business which requires me to ask a certain number of employees to report to work, but the number I require to actually perform work depends on the business that day. If I ask the employees to wait on the premises until I can be sure of the work availability, do I have to pay them for the time?

Yes. The law requires that time spent waiting to perform work for the benefit of and at the request of the employer, be paid. Also, if you are an employer subject to Oregon’s predictive scheduling law, you should be aware that altering scheduled shifts for a given day may trigger additional compensation requirements. Be sure to click here for more information.

I send out dishwasher installers for our clients. If they have to wait on a jobsite for a customer or equipment to arrive, is that paid time?

Yes, unless the employees are specifically relieved from duty and the downtime is sufficiently long enough to use the time for their own purposes, they are “engaged to wait” (meaning waiting is part of the work you do) and you should be paid.

On-Call Time

An employee who is required to remain on-call on the employer's premises or so close thereto that the employee cannot use the time effectively for the employee’s own purposes is working while "on-call.” An employee who is not required to remain on the employer's premises but is merely required to leave word with company officials where the employee may be reached is not working while on-call.

When is on-call time paid?

That depends. If you require employees to wait on the premises or very nearby to be called to duty, you need to pay for the on-call time. An example here would be a firefighter waiting to respond to an emergency.

On the other hand, if you just require employees to carry a cell phone or leave a number where they can be reached, they are likely able to use the time effectively for their own purposes, despite some limitations. If so, you would not need to pay for the time the employee spends available for a call.

Of course you would need to be pay for any time work is performed in response to a call. In addition, if the calls come so frequently or the conditions of on-call time are so restrictive that the employees cannot use the time effectively, they may be considered to be “engaged to wait,” in which case the time spent waiting would be compensable.

Finally, if your organization is subject to Oregon’s predictive scheduling law, know that employers must typically pay one-half the regular rate of wage for scheduled on call hours when the employer does not ask the employee to perform work. Click for more information on predictive scheduling requirements.

Sleep Time

Under certain circumstances hours worked may include time that an employee spends asleep.

I run a 24-hour self-storage facility. The facility has a small apartment attached and employees are welcome to sleep during their shift so long as they are available to handle occasional things that come up after hours. Does the time spent asleep come out of their check?

Your answer depends on two things: the length of the shift and whether the employees get a reasonable opportunity for sleep.

If the shift is less than 24 hours, sleep may not be excluded from hours worked.

If the shift is 24 hours or more, you and your employee may agree to exclude up to eight hours from hours worked, provided:

  • Adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by you; and
  • The employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted sleep period.

If the sleeping period is interrupted by a call to duty, the time worked during an interruption of sleep must be counted as hours worked. In addition, if interruptions result in the employee not getting at least five continuous hours of uninterrupted time for sleep, the entire sleep period must be counted as hours worked.

Note that only eight hours can be excluded from hours worked, even if sleeping is allowed beyond eight hours. Of course, excluding sleep time from hours of work requires an agreement, so it’s best to get your arrangement in writing.

Special rules apply to employees who reside on employer’s premises and domestic workers. See OAR 839-020-0042 for the details.

Meeting / Training Time

Time spent in meetings or trainings is typically paid time. When an employer requires employee attendance, the time must be counted as hours worked, even though employees may not be performing their usual duties.

Only when all of the follow criteria are met may time spent in meetings or trainings be excluded from compensable hours worked:

  • Attendance is outside of the employee's regular working hours;
  • Attendance is voluntary;
  • The training, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee's job; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

Time employees spend on their own initiative attending an independent school, college, or independent trade school after hours is not considered hours worked for an employer, even if the courses are related to the employee's job.

Additionally, time spent in training outside regular working hours at specialized or follow-up training which is required for certification of employees by any law or ordinance does not constitute compensable hours of work, even if all or part of the cost of training is borne by the employer.

Volunteer Activities

Employees may not volunteer services to for-profit private sector employers. On the other hand, individuals may volunteer services to public sector employers and religious, charitable or similar non-profit organizations. (Note that public sector employers may not allow their employees to volunteer, without compensation, additional time to do the same work for which they are employed.)

In order for an employee to qualify as a volunteer, all four of these criteria must be met:

  • The work must be at the employee´s initiative.
  • The work must be outside normal or regular work hours.
  • The employee must be performing a religious, charitable or other community service without contemplation of payment.
  • The employee must be performing a task outside of the regular job functions performed for the same employer.

Note that interns are handled separately here.

Travel Time

Check out our online factsheet and FAQ by clicking here.


 Fact Sheet Disclaimer

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.​



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