The Ohio Employment Law Guide

The state laws every business owner should know

Businesses must post all applicable state and federal labor law posters in the workplace.

Ohio labor law posters to download

Federal labor law posters to download

Wages and Breaks

Minimum Wage
$8.70

The current minimum wage in Ohio is $8.70 for employers who earn more than $314,000 in gross annual receipts.

Employers who earn less than $314,000 in gross receipts are only required to abide by the federal minimum wage laws, which dictate that employees must be paid a minimum of $7.25.

Tipped Min wage
$4.35

The current minimum wage for tipped employees in Ohio is $4.35.

There are no Ohio laws dictating requirements for tip pooling or sharing.

Overtime
1.5X

Employers must pay employees an overtime rate of pay equal to 1 ½ times the regular rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.

The federal overtime rule stipulates that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 annually.

Breaks
None

Lunch breaks and other rest periods are not required for employees 18 years of age and older.

Any breaks the employer provides that are over 20 minutes do not have to be paid provided the employee is free to leave the premises and does not perform work.

Minor Breaks
30 min per 5 hrs

Minors must be given a break, either paid or unpaid, of at least 30 minutes after working 5 consecutive hours.

Final paychecks

Ohio wage and hour laws do not dictate when an employer must pay the final paycheck to an employee who leaves their position for any reason, whether they were terminated, resigned, or were laid off.

Child Labor

Minors 14 and 15 years of age

Minors 14 and 15 years of age may only work 3 hours on a school day and 8 hours on a non-school day.

When school is in session, they may only work 18 hours a week unless they are participating in a legitimate vocational training program, in which case they may work in excess of 40 hours a week. They may not work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. between Sept. 1 and June 1, except during prolonged school holidays, when they may work until 9 p.m.

When school is not in session, they may work no more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. They may not work before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

Minors 16 and 17 years of age

Minors 16 and 17 years of age have no restrictions on the number of hours they may work in a workday or week. When school is in session they may not work before 7 a.m. unless they did not work past 8 p.m. the previous night, in which case they may not work before 6 a.m. They may not work after 11 p.m. if a school day follows.

Pay Practices

Employers must provide minor employees with a written statement regarding how much the minor will be paid. Employers must also provide a statement of earnings by each payday indicating hours worked and the wages earned.

Leave Requirements

Sick days

Employers do not have to provide paid or unpaid sick leave, but if an employer chooses to include a sick leave policy in the employee handbook, it must comply with the terms.

Family and medical leave

An employer may be required to provide unpaid leave in accordance with the federal laws in the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Bereavement leave

State laws do not require bereavement leave to be provided by employers.

Vacation time

Ohio law does not require employers to provide paid or unpaid vacation time, but if they choose to do so, they must comply with the established policy.

Employers may deny employees payment for unused accrued vacation time upon separation from employment, as long as the policy is clear and established.

Employers can also disqualify an employee from payment of accrued vacation when they are separated from employment if they do not comply with certain requirements, such as not giving a two-week notice.

Employers can implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” vacation policy that requires employees to use their vacation time by a certain date.

Holiday leave

Private employers are not required to provide paid time off or unpaid leave for holidays, but must comply with any policy they have established.

Jury Duty

Employers are not required to pay an employee for time spent responding to a jury summons, but employees cannot be terminated or penalized for doing so.

Employers may not request that an employee use any available vacation or sick leave to respond to a jury summons.

Voting time

Employees who take a reasonable amount of time off to vote cannot be penalized or terminated.

Employers are only required to pay salaried employees for time taken off to vote.

Emergency Response Leave

Employers are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against employees who are volunteer firefighters or members of volunteer medical response companies because they are late for work or miss a shift as a result of responding to an emergency call received prior to the start of work.

Employers may require a written statement signed by the head of the fire department or medical organization, as applicable, informing the employer of the employee’s volunteer or first responder status.

Employers may also require affected employees to do the following: Make every effort to inform their employer when they may be late or absent in order to respond to an emergency; If unable to provide such notice, give the employer a written statement signed by the fire chief, medical director, or chief administrator explaining why they could not do so; At the employer’s request, submit a written statement from the fire chief, medical director, or chief administrator verifying that they responded to a call and specifying the response date, time, and duration; Promptly notify the employer of any change to their volunteer status.

Witness Leave

Employers are required to provide unpaid leave for an employee to appear as a witness in a criminal, delinquency, or grand jury proceeding or to assist a prosecutor in preparing a criminal case. Employers cannot take any adverse action because an employee takes such leave.

Crime Victim Leave

Employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee who is the victim of a crime (or their family member or representative) for preparing for a criminal or delinquency proceeding at the prosecutor’s request. Employers cannot take any adverse action against such employee for attending a criminal or delinquency proceeding pursuant to a subpoena if their attendance is reasonably necessary to protect the interests of the victim.

Military Leave

The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is applicable to all employers in the United States.

Family Military Leave

Employers with 50 or more employees must provide eligible employees with family military leave of up to 10 days or 80 hours (whichever is less) once a calendar year  The employer may choose whether the leave is paid or unpaid.

To be eligible, the employee must work for the employer for at least 12 consecutive months and for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding commencement of the leave.

In addition, the employee must be the parent, spouse, or a person who has or had legal custody of a person who is a member of the uniformed services when that member is called for active duty longer than 30 days or is injured while serving on active duty.

Employers may require that the employee provide 14 days’ notice of intended leave for active duty deployment or two days’ notice of intended leave for injuries. Notice may not be required for leave taken because of critical or life-threatening injuries.

Employees are entitled to take the leave no more than two weeks prior to or one week after the date of deployment.

The employer may require that the employee exhaust all available forms of leave, except sick leave or disability leave.

Hiring, firing, and more

Discrimination

Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: Race, Color, Age, Sex, Sexual orientation, Gender, Gender identity, Religion, National origin, Pregnancy, Genetic information, including family medical history, Physical or mental disability, Child or spousal support withholding, Military or veteran status, Citizenship and/or immigration status.

In addition, Ohio law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: Wage garnishment for consumer debt if two or fewer per year; Exercise of civil rights; Familial status; Arrest or sealed criminal records.

Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.

Termination

Ohio is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory, there is no contract to the contrary, and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action.

Record Keeping

Regarding employment and payroll data, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and others, you must:

For at least 3 years: keep payroll records, certificates, agreements, notices, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and sales and purchase records. Also keep completed copies of each employee’s I-9 for three years after they are hired. If the employee works longer than three years, hold on to the form for at least one year after the employee leaves. 

For at least 2 years: Keep basic employment and earning records like timecards, wage-rate tables, shipping and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Also keep the records that show why you may pay different wages to employees of different sexes, such as wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements.

For at least 1 year: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination. 

Other record-keeping laws that may apply to you: 

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you need to keep records of job-related injuries and illnesses for five years. But some records, like those covering toxic substance exposure, have to be kept for 30 years.

You must keep files of benefit plans and seniority and merit systems while they are in effect and for at least a year after they end. You must also retain summary descriptions and annual reports of benefits plans for six years.

If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you must also retain relevant records of leaves, notices, policies, and more for three years. 

Additional laws that may apply to you

Pay Practices

Employers must pay their employees at least semimonthly. However, employees may be paid less frequently if it is the custom of the employee’s trade, profession, or occupation or if the employer and employee agree in writing. Minor employees must be given at least 24 hours’ notice before their pay is reduced. Employers must pay wages earned in the first 15 days of the month by the first day of the following month. Employers must pay wages earned in the last half of the month by the 15th day of the following month.

Background Checks

Employers who run background checks should ensure they’re following the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which are available here.

Ohio requires that employers conduct background checks on the following types of employees: Community-based long-term care services personnel; Community health personnel; Head start personnel who are responsible for the care, custody, or control of a child; Preschool program personnel who are responsible for the care, custody, or control of a child; School personnel; Day care center personnel;  Personnel working for adult care providers; Personnel working for home health agencies; Personnel working for an entity that provides services to people with developmental disabilities; Personnel working for a Medicaid provider.

Credit and Investigative Checks

Ohio does not expressly allow or prohibit employers from obtaining credit checks on applicants or employees.

Arrest and Conviction Checks

Ohio does not expressly allow or prohibit employers from obtaining criminal history checks for employment purposes, except that employers may not ask about expunged juvenile records. Additionally, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission has issued a “Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide,” which indicates that employers should not ask about arrests that did not result in conviction. The guide states that employers may ask about specific crimes related to the qualifications for the job, but should only ask about sealed conviction records if there is a direct and substantial relationship to the position. Applicants who only have arrests or convictions for minor misdemeanor violations related to marijuana, or whose records were sealed after a finding of “not guilty” or dismissal of the charges, may answer in the negative when asked about arrest and conviction records.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Generally, Ohio does not regulate employers’ drug and alcohol testing. However, if employers follow certain guidelines, they can receive a discount on their workers’ compensation premiums.

Whistleblower Protection

Employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee for reporting what they reasonably believe to be a violation of law, including local ordinance, that is likely to cause physical harm or endanger public health or safety or is a felony or is an improper solicitation for a contribution.

COBRA

COBRA is a federal law that allows many employees to continue their health insurance benefits after their employment ends. Because federal COBRA only applies to employers that have 20 or more employees, many states have adopted their own versions of the law, which are known as “mini-COBRAs.” Ohio’s mini-COBRA allows employees to continue their coverage for up to 12 months. Employers must inform an employee of their COBRA rights when they inform them of their termination.

Compliance Calendar

Get our Compliance Calendar to stay on top of deadlines throughout the year: View it on your computer. Click + Google Calendar in the lower right to add it to your Google Calendar and subscribe to all updates. You can also download a calendar (.ics) file that you can import into iCal or Outlook, or download a PDF to your computer.  

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 Remember

This summary is not qualified legal advice. Laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. If you need more compliance help, we recommend consulting with a qualified lawyer, checking with your local government agencies, or signing up for Homebase to get help from our certified HR Pros. 

Additional Resources