Table of contents
What’s new in 2023
Wage and Hour Laws
Ohio increased its minimum wage on January 1, 2023 to $10.10 per hour for non-tipped employees. The state minimum wage law applies to all businesses with annual gross receipts of $372,000 or more per year.
Ohio’s minimum wage is tied to the inflation rate as measured by the consumer price index. Both the minimum wage and the annual gross receipts threshold are adjusted each January to reflect inflation changes.
- Employees under the age of 16.
- Businesses that have annual gross receipts under $372,000 per year.
- Employees of a family-owned business who are family members of the business owner.
- Babysitters and live-in caregivers who don’t include housekeeping in their primary duties.
- Volunteers for public agencies and health institutions.
- Employers licensed by the state to employ individuals with mental or physical disabilities that interfere with the individual’s ability to work.
Exempt businesses don’t have to pay the state minimum wage but are still subject to federal minimum wage requirements. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour.
There are no regional differences in minimum wage labor laws in Ohio. Since 2017, Ohio has prohibited local municipalities from establishing separate minimum wage regulations for businesses operating within their borders.
All Ohio business owners must post the most recent minimum wage poster in their business. This poster was updated for 2023 to reflect the increased minimum wage rate.
Tipped Minimum Wage
Ohio’s minimum wage law ties the tipped minimum wage to the state minimum wage. The tipped minimum wage is always half the state minimum wage. For 2023, the tipped minimum wage is $5.05.
Employees who receive tips must be paid at least the state minimum wage of $10.10 when their tips and wages are combined.
As with the state minimum wage, cities and other municipal governments are prohibited from setting tipped minimum wage standards that differ from state law.
Ohio’s overtime law uses the same method of calculating overtime as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers must pay employees at a rate of 1.5 times the employee’s hourly rate for any hours worked more than 40 hours in 1 workweek.
Employees who are FLSA-exempt aren’t eligible for overtime pay in Ohio. The state law doesn’t apply to agriculture employees either. It’s also applied differently to certain employees of public government entities.
Employers aren’t required to pay overtime for certain activities. These include:
- Commuting to or from the place of employment.
- Activities preliminary or postliminary to (directly before or after) the employee’s principal activity.
- Activities requiring insubstantial or insignificant time beyond scheduled working hours.
Overtime is owed if an employee performs otherwise exempt activities under any of these circumstances:
- The activity is completed at the employer’s specific direction.
- The employee performs the activities during the regular workday or during prescribed hours.
- The employee performs the activity in accordance with a written or unwritten contract.
- The employee performs the activity in accordance with a custom or practice applicable to the activity and not inconsistent with a written or unwritten contract.
Meal and Rest Breaks
Employers are required to provide work breaks only to minor employees (under 18). A minor employee must be given a rest period of at least 30 minutes for every 5 consecutive hours worked.
Adult employees (18 and over) may be provided with meal or rest breaks by policy or custom, but there’s no legal requirement to provide them under Ohio labor laws. When employers do offer breaks, they must continue to follow their own rules.
Employers in Ohio are required to compensate employees for all hours worked. The US Department of Labor defines hours worked as “all the time during which an employee is required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty, or at a prescribed workplace.” Break periods aren’t included in this definition.
Employers are required to make and keep employee records that include the following:
- Employee name
- Employee address
- Employee occupation
- Rate of pay
- Amount paid each pay period to each employee
- Hours worked by each employee for each workday and workweek
These records must be maintained for a minimum of 3 years. They’re subject to inspection by the Ohio Department of Commerce at any reasonable time.
Employee Compensation and Benefits
Final Paycheck Laws
An employee’s final paycheck can be paid at the time of termination.
At the latest, a final paycheck must be paid by the next standard payday, or within 15 days of termination, whichever is sooner.
Failure to pay an employee in full and in a timely fashion can result in liquidated damages of up to $200.
Reporting Time Pay
Ohio labor law doesn’t require employers to pay employees who report to work if no work is performed.
Similarly, there’s no minimum shift payment requirement if an employee is dismissed from work before completing their shift. Payment is required only for hours worked.
Employee Scheduling Laws
Ohio leaves employee scheduling to employer discretion as a matter of employer policy. Employers that offer specified hours or schedules through employment contracts or collective bargaining agreements must abide by those agreements.
In the absence of a contract, employers may change an employee’s hours without the employee’s prior knowledge or consent. This aligns with federal FLSA requirements.
Payday Frequency and Method
Employers in Ohio are required to pay all employees at least semi-monthly. By the first day of the month, employee wages must be paid for earnings during the first half of the preceding month. Earnings from the second half of the preceding month must be paid by the 15th day of the next month.
Different time lapses for payment are allowed in trades or occupations where a different payment time lapse is customary, but this is uncommon.
Employers in any industry or occupation may also establish a different pay schedule by written contract.
Employees who don’t receive their wages due to an absence from their regular place of work are entitled to their wages on demand at their regular place of payment.
Ohio law allows wages to be paid in cash or by check. There are no Ohio laws specifically allowing or prohibiting payment by direct deposit or payroll card.
Interestingly, Ohio does require some government employees to enroll in direct deposit for payroll.
Pay Stub Requirements
Employers in Ohio aren’t required to provide pay stubs to employees.
In 2023, a bill was introduced in the Ohio legislature that would require employers to provide employees with either a written or printed pay stub, or access to an electronic pay stub. This bill hasn’t yet been adopted into Ohio law.
Wage Deductions and Garnishments
Ohio law allows for wage deductions that are otherwise required by law—such as for tax withholdings, deductions for health insurance or other insurance premiums, and for the purchase of merchandise.
Employers may not deduct or withhold wages from an employee to compensate for equipment costs, uniform purchases, or machinery damage. An employer’s obligation to pay wages includes payment of benefits owed under the employer’s policies, such as payment of vacation leave or sick leave.
Employees may authorize wage deductions in writing. Authorizations must be revocable by the employee up to the time of payment.
The Ohio Workers’ Compensation Act (OWCA) requires employers with 1 or more employees to hold workers’ compensation coverage. Employers cannot opt out of providing workers’ compensation coverage under any circumstances.
Workers’ compensation insurance is intended to compensate employees who have suffered an injury or illness in the workplace that wasn’t self-inflicted or suffered due to intoxication.
Employers can be exempted from the OWCA’s funding requirements if they’re approved for self-insured status.
The state grants self-insured status to certain employers who show they can directly pay compensation and medical costs for work-related injuries. To qualify for self-insured status, employers must meet the following criteria:
- Be authorized by the Ohio Secretary of State to do business in the state.
- Have held a Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) policy with the Ohio State Insurance Fund for at least 2 years.
- Demonstrate financial stability.
- Show the ability to administer a self-insured program.
- Maintain a financial account in Ohio, or be able to draw compensation checks from the same account as payroll checks.
- Have a Qualified Health Plan or medical management plan certified by BWC.
Employers can apply for self-insured status through the BWC online.
All employers, whether self-insured or insured through the state fund, must post notices regarding workers compensation in a prominent location in the workplace.
Employees who have experienced a workplace injury or illness should report the incident to their supervisor as soon as possible.
Deadlines to report a workers’ compensation claim vary by the circumstance, but injured employees typically have to file a claim within 1 year. Failing to file a claim on time can result in the claim being barred by the statute of limitations.
In addition to the injured employee, workers’ compensation claims can also be filed by any of the following:
- Medical provider
- Authorized representative
- Interested parties (such as a spouse)
Claims can be completed online, by mail or fax, or over the phone at 800-644-6292.
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) reviews claims and issues a claim decision. The employer or injured employee may dispute the claim by filing an appeal with the Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC). The BWC also offers alternative dispute resolution for conflicts regarding the appropriate medical treatment.
Employers are required to self-report liability for unemployment insurance as soon as they have 1 or more employees in covered employment. Reports are made to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Employers become liable under Ohio unemployment insurance law when they have:
- At least 1 employee in covered employment for any 20 weeks within the current or preceding calendar year.
- Paid $1,500 or more in wages to employees in covered employment in a calendar quarter.
- Paid cash remuneration of $1,000 or more to a domestic service employee in a calendar quarter.
- Paid cash remuneration of $20,000 or more in a calendar quarter or had 10 or more employees in agricultural employment during any 20 weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
- Had 4 or more employees in a tax-exempt organization engaged in covered employment during any 20 weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
To determine liability, “covered employment” means “service performed by an individual for remuneration under any contract of hire, written or oral, express or implied.”
This includes services “performed in interstate commerce” or “performed by an officer of a corporation.” It also doesn’t matter whether the service is “executive, managerial, or manual in nature” or whether the individual is “a stockholder or a member of the board of directors of the corporation.”
The exception to this is when it’s “shown to the satisfaction of the director that such individual has been and will continue to be free from direction or control over the performance of such service, both under a contract of service and in fact.”
There are several exclusions to “covered employment,” including:
- Family members working for a sole proprietorship owned by another family member
- Church employees.
- Ordained ministers.
- Employees receiving rehabilitative services.
- Employees of certain non-profit organizations.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services maintains a detailed Employer Guide to Ohio Unemployment Insurance.
Employers who wouldn’t otherwise be liable may opt to cover employees voluntarily.
Employees don’t pay into unemployment insurance and are eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits if they’ve lost work through no fault of their own.
Unemployment benefits are calculated based on the employee’s prior wage and number of qualifying dependents. The maximum benefit amounts are $561 per week for employees with 0 dependents, $680 per week for employees with up to 2 dependents, and $757 per week for employees with 3 or more dependents.
Employees can file for unemployment benefits online through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website. They can also make claims by calling toll-free 1-877-644-6562.
Employees must file claims weekly for every week they remain unemployed. To remain eligible, individuals must be able and available to accept suitable work.
Workplace Rights and Protections
Discrimination and Harassment
The Ohio Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) prohibits workplace discrimination and harassment. Protected classes under FEPA include:
- Military status.
- National origin.
- Citizenship status.
- Genetic information.
- Caring for a family member in the armed services.
Ohio law doesn’t include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected classes. However, federal anti-discrimination law may cover both of these.
Employers in Ohio aren’t required to conduct employee training on discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
Employees that believe they’ve been subjected to illegal discrimination or harassment in the workplace can file a formal claim with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC).
Alternatively, employees can file claims with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against an employer with 15 or more employees.
The OCRC has an agreement with the EEOC to cooperate in processing discrimination claims.
🧠 Did You Know?
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|Covered by Ohio Law?
|Leave Law Details
|Family and Medical Leave
|Employers must follow federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements.
If an employer adopts a policy or offers an employment contract providing paid or unpaid family and medical leave, it must follow the policy or contract terms.
|Paid Sick Leave
|Employers must follow federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements.
If an employer adopts a policy or offers an employment contract providing paid or unpaid sick leave, it must follow the policy or contract terms.
|Paid Family Leave
|Employers must follow federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements/
If an employer adopts a policy or offers an employment contract providing paid or unpaid family leave, it must follow the policy or contract terms.
|Family Bereavement Leave
|If an employer adopts a policy or offers an employment contract providing paid or unpaid bereavement leave, it must follow the policy or contract terms.
|The Ohio Military Family Leave Act impacts employers with 50 or more employees.
Employers under the law must provide 2 weeks unpaid leave to an employee who is the spouse, parent, or legal guardian of an injured or deployed armed service member.
To be eligible for this leave, an employee must:Have been employed by the same employer for at least 12 consecutive months and worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months.Be the injured or deployed service member’s parent, spouse, or legal custodian.Provide 14 days’ notice of intended leave for deployment or 2 days’ notice of intended leave for injury.Take leave no more than 2 weeks before or 1 week after deployment.Have exhausted all other forms of available leave, except sick or disability leave.
Ohio employers must also follow the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1995 (USERRA) requirements.
|Jury Duty Leave
|Ohio law prohibits employers from penalizing employees for being called to jury duty.
Employers can’t take disciplinary action against an employee or threaten discharge from employment when the employee is absent due to jury service.
Employers also can’t require an employee to use paid leave accruals such as vacation or sick leave for the time absent due to jury duty.
Absence due to jury duty is unpaid unless the employer chooses to adopt a paid leave policy.
|Employers must allow employees a reasonable amount of unpaid time away from work to vote on election day.
|Pregnancy and Parental Leave
|Employers may not penalize employees who are absent from work due to pregnancy or childbirth.
Employers must also follow federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements.
Private employers aren’t required to provide paid pregnancy or paid parental leave.
|Vacation and Personal Leave
|If an employer adopts a policy or offers an employment contract providing paid or unpaid vacation or personal leave, it must follow the policy or contract terms.
Child Labor Laws
Ohio minor labor laws define a minor as anyone under 18.
Ohio generally prohibits children 13 or younger from working, with limited exceptions such as for child performers or volunteer work.
Minors aged 14 to 17 generally need a minor school certificate to work. Minors aged 16 and 17 are exempt from the certificate requirement if they work during summer vacation months.
The minor completes the certificate application with information from the employer and their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). A school district representative must approve the form. Minors may also require a physician’s certificate for jobs requiring a physical. They’ll turn the forms in to the Ohio Department of Commerce.
Employers are responsible for maintaining school certificates and notifying the school district within 5 days after a minor has quit or been dismissed from employment.
Ohio law prohibits certain types of work for minors, with more prohibitions placed on minors aged 14 or 15. Prohibited occupations for 14- and 15-year-olds include:
- All manufacturing work.
- Working in freezers or meat coolers and any preparation of meat for sale.
- Transportation work.
- Work in boiler or engine rooms.
- Outside window washing while on window sills, scaffolding, or ladders.
- Cooking and baking or managing power-driven food processing equipment.
- Loading or unloading trucks.
- All warehouse work except office or clerical.
- Work on cars or trucks using pits, racks, or lifting apparatus.
Door-to-door sales are also strictly limited for 14- and 15-year-olds. The exception is if the employer registers with the Ohio Department of Commerce and takes additional steps—such as providing each minor employee with a photo identification card and requiring all minors to work in pairs.
Minor employees aged 16 or 17 can work in a wider range of jobs, but are still subject to some prohibitions.
The following occupations are prohibited for any employee under 18 years of age:
- Occupations involving slaughtering, meat-packing, processing or rendering
- Power-driven bakery machines
- Occupations involved in the manufacture of brick, tile, and similar products
- Occupations involved in the manufacture of chemicals
- Manufacturing or storage occupations involving explosives
- Occupations involving exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations
- Power-driven paper products machines
- Power-driven metal forming, punching, and shearing machines
- Occupations involved in the operation of power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears
- Power-driven woodworking machines
- Coal mines
- Occupations in connection with mining, other than coal
- Logging and sawmilling
- Motor vehicle occupations
- Maritime and longshoreman occupations
- Excavation operations
- Power-driven and hoisting apparatus
- Roofing operations
- Wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking
In addition to limitations on the type of work minors can perform, Ohio also limits working hours for minors. Minors aged 14 or 15 may not work:
- During school hours.
- Before 7 am.
- After 9 pm between June 1 and September 1, or during school holidays.
- After 7 pm when school is in session.
- More than 3 hours on a school day.
- More than 18 hours per week while school is in session.
- More than 8 hours on a non-school day.
- More than 40 hours per week while school isn’t in session.
Minors aged 16 or 17 may not work:
- Before 7 am on a school day. (The minor may be employed as early as 6 am on a school day if they weren’t employed after 8 pm the prior evening.)
- After 11 pm on any night before a school day.
- More than 40 hours in any 1 week or during school hours—except when the employment is part of an approved program such as work-study or vocational training.
Violations of Ohio’s child labor laws can result in criminal charges that range from minor misdemeanors to felony charges.
Workplace Safety and Health
Ohio law places a duty on employers to protect employees and furnish a safe place of employment. Employers must provide necessary safety devices, furnishing, and safeguards to ensure a safe workplace. The law also prohibits employees from damaging or removing safety features from the workplace.
Ohio doesn’t provide detailed legal guidance for workplace safety and health. It follows the federal law requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). As a result, all Ohio employers must meet or exceed OSH Act requirements.
The OSH Act is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The OSH Act has extensive recordkeeping and reporting requirements, all of which apply in Ohio.
Employees can report workplace safety or health violations online or contact one of the OSHA offices in Ohio. Employees of public entities can file a safety and health complaint with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
Labor Union Regulations
Ohio is a right-to-work state. Employers cannot require employees to join, promise to join, or remain members of a labor union or employee organization.
Labor disputes involving 25 or more employees may trigger a hearing before the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Employment Contracts and Severance
Employment Contract Laws
Ohio is an “at-will” employment state. This means that an employer or employee can terminate employment for any reason or no reason, so long as the termination isn’t otherwise against the law.
However, there are some exceptions to the “at-will” rule. Ohio limits the at-will employment rule in 2 ways:
- When termination violates public policy.
- When termination violates an implied contract or promise made to an employee.
Termination can violate public policy when a law, policy, or other legislative action creates circumstances under which termination isn’t allowed.
When circumstances imply a contract or when an employer makes promises to an employee, this can be enough to prohibit termination under at-will employment rules. Implied contracts and promise limitations (called promissory estoppel) don’t have to be in writing to be enforced.
When an implied contract is formed, then termination can only occur as agreed in the implied contract.
Similarly, when an employer makes a clear and unambiguous promise to continue employment and the employee reasonably relies on that promise, promissory estoppel will prohibit the employer from breaking the promise.
Non-compete agreements remain enforceable in Ohio. To be enforceable, a non-compete agreement must:
- Be no greater than is required for protection of an employer’s legitimate interest.
- Not impose undue hardship on the employee.
- Not injure the public interest.
Non-solicitation agreements are also enforceable in Ohio if they meet the following requirements:
- A valid business reason for the agreement exists, such as protecting trade secrets or a customer list.
- The company has put measurable effort into building its customer list.
- The company hasn’t prevented employees and customers from voluntarily leaving their relationship with the company when there hasn’t been a solicitation.
Ohio employers aren’t required to offer employees severance pay when terminating employment.
Employers that offer severance pay by contract or employee policies must honor that agreement. Employees should refer to their employee policies for guidance on severance pay.
Additional Laws That Might Apply to You
Business owners and employers may not establish a policy that prohibits a person who has a valid concealed handgun license from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in these circumstances:
- The firearm or ammunition remains in the person’s vehicle and is locked in the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment when the person exits the vehicle.
- The vehicle is in a permitted location.
Drug testing is required for certain employees in Ohio, including:
- Contractors on public improvement projects.
- Applicants for ambulance driver positions with a licensed medical transport organization.
Ohio law allows medical marijuana usage.
However, employers aren’t required to allow employees to use, possess, or distribute marijuana. Additionally, employers may refuse to hire, discipline, or discharge employees who use, possess, or distribute marijuana, even if the marijuana is for medical purposes.
Employers may enforce a drug-free workplace policy or a zero-tolerance drug policy.
Smoking is prohibited in indoor workplaces and outdoor areas adjacent to building entrances. Employers can designate their entire worksite as non-smoking.
Employers must post signs with the words “No Smoking” or approved no smoking symbols and a phone number for reporting violations. Signs must be posted at each entrance to the workplace.
The Ohio Whistleblower Protection Act provides employees with a right to file a civil lawsuit against employers for retaliation related to whistleblowing. The employee must file the civil lawsuit within 180 days of the employer’s action.
COVID-19 Related Laws and Regulations
Ohio encourages vaccination and masking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but has no ongoing related legal requirements.
Navigating Legal Issues and Resources
Assistance and further resources regarding labor laws in Ohio are available through the following state government agencies:
- Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation
- Ohio Department of Commerce
- Ohio Civil Rights Commission
- Industrial Commission of Ohio
- Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Ohio Legal Help is a nonprofit that provides guidance and free legal advice to Ohio workers.
Ohio labor laws sometimes contradict federal laws and can be confusing. Speaking to an attorney about your specific obligations as an employer, or your rights as an employee, is the best way to ensure accurate information for your situation.
The information presented on this website about labor laws in the United States is intended to be accurate and informative. However, laws and regulations can change and may vary depending on individual circumstances. While we have made every effort to ensure the information provided is up-to-date and reliable, we cannot guarantee its completeness or accuracy. Therefore, we strongly recommend that readers seek guidance from their legal department or a qualified attorney to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Please note that we cannot be held liable for any actions taken or not taken based on the information presented on this website.