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Ohio Specific Employment Regulations

Every employer in Ohio is governed by employment and labor laws that help protect the rights of employees in the workplace. Some of these laws are federal labor laws that all employers across the United States are beholden to, while others are labor laws that are Ohio-specific. If you run or manage a business in the state of Ohio, it’s important to know the laws that apply to you in order to avoid fines, penalties, and mistreatment of employees!

Disclaimer: these materials do not constitute legal advice and should not be substituted for the advice of legal counsel. 

Read on to learn more, or contact our team at Horizon today for more information.

Employment Laws vs. Labor Laws in Ohio

Employment laws and labor laws are not exactly the same, although they do have a significant amount of overlap. Employment laws are typically laws that deal with the rights and treatment of individuals in the workplace. They help mediate the relationship between employer and employee on a one-on-one level. Meanwhile, labor laws deal with a larger class of people – typically the workforce as a whole or labor unions within a particular industry. 


Ohio Employment Laws and Regulations

As an employer in the state of Ohio, there are many laws and regulations that you are beholden to while running your business and employing staff. In addition to terms laid out in federal law with the Fair Labor Standards Act, below are just some of the most prevalent Ohio employment laws that business owners need to be aware of.   

Ohio Minimum Wage and Tipped Work Wages

Ohio’s minimum wage is currently set at $10.10 for non-tipped employees and $5.05 for eligible employees receiving a tip, like restaurant servers or bartenders. In January 2024, both rates are set to increase  – raising non-tipped employees’ wages to $10.45 and tipped employees to $5.25.  

For states without a minimum wage regulation, businesses should defer to federal minimum wage requirements.   

Overtime Requirements, Payment, and Exceptions

Ohio does not have any state-specific laws regarding overtime, and instead, employers should default to federal overtime laws. As a result, any employee (with some exemptions) working over 40 hours a week must be paid at least time and a half by their employer. Overtime payments are to be made at the same time that a regular paycheck is issued to employees each pay period. 

Typically, “white collar” professions like office workers are exempt from overtime requirements, including: 

  • Executive employees 
  • Administrative employees 
  • Learned professionals 
  • Creative professionals 
  • Computer employees 
  • Outside sales employees 

Additionally, federal and state first responders are also exempt from being paid required overtime, including state troopers, police officers, paramedics, detectives, and many others performing similar duties.

Mandatory Breaks for Workers

Employers in Ohio are not required to give breaks to adult employees during the workday, although some employers may choose to do so regardless in order to maintain a good employment relationship. Such breaks must be paid unless they exceed a length of 20 minutes. Employees under the age of 18 must have a 30-minute uninterrupted break when working for five consecutive hours.

Required Employee Leave (Medical, Bereavement, etc.)

Ohio employers are beholden to federal regulations regarding extended medical leave as outlined in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employers must grant employees 12 workweeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for significant family or health events, including: 

  • The birth of the employee’s child 
  • The placement of an adopted or fostered child within the employee’s care 
  • The serious illness of an employee’s spouse, child, or parent, should they require caretaking from said employee 
  • The serious illness of the employee, should that illness prevent them from performing their job duties 
  • Leave situations arising from having an immediate family member who is an active duty member of the military

Twenty-six work weeks of leave are to be provided to employees who are caring for an injured servicemember, should the servicemember be a direct relation to the employee (parent, child, spouse, next-of-kin, etc.). However, private employers are not required to provide leave for bereavement per Ohio law.

Other Employee Leave Rules (Sick, Vacation, and Holiday Leave)

Employers in the state of Ohio are not required by law to provide sick leave, vacation, or holidays to employees. Employers who choose to provide such leave are only beholden to the terms that they set in employment contracts.  

However, the law requires that some other types of leave or time away from work must be granted. For example, victims of criminal acts must be given sufficient leave for legal proceedings and other events related to the crime. Further, employees in Ohio must be permitted leave for jury duty and to vote on election days and may not be penalized for leave to serve as election officials. 

employee benefit trends 2023

Hiring and Termination Laws for Employers

Ohio is an at-will employment state, which means that employers may choose to terminate an employee for any reason they choose, so long as that reason is not unlawful, and so long as they are not violating the terms of a pre-established employment agreement or firing a union employee. However, some reasons for termination are considered unlawful. For instance, it is considered unlawful to fire an employee for belonging to a protected group. Employers may not fire an employee on the basis of an employee’s: 

  • Race 
  • Religious background 
  • Nationality 
  • Sex 
  • Military status 
  • Ancestry or national origin 
  • Pregnancy status 
  • Age 
  • Disability 
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity

Additionally, employers may not fire an employee in retaliation for engaging in protected activities in the workplace. Protected activities may include: 

  • Demanding that an employer adhere to labor laws 
  • Reporting unsafe or unlawful workplace practices 
  • Exercising their rights as an employee 
  • Meeting with other employees to discuss working conditions 
  • Asking for religious or disability accommodations 

Discrimination in the Workplace

An employer may not discriminate in terms of hiring, firing, pay, promotion, benefits, training, referral, or any other aspect directly related to employment. In Ohio’s state law, it may be considered discrimination to treat an employee differently on the basis of: 

  • Race 
  • Religion 
  • Nationality 
  • Sex 
  • Military status 
  • Ancestry 
  • Pregnancy status 
  • Age 
  • Disability 
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity 

Workplace Safety Regulations

Employers are required to provide a safe workplace to all employees and do what is within their power to prevent injury or harm to employees while at work. To do so, employers must abide by OSHA regulations and safety requirements, including appropriate safety equipment, training, and limitation of hazards on a job site.  

Child Labor Laws

Ohio has a number of regulations regarding the hours that may be worked by children under the age of 18 that can generally be divided into three distinct categories: 

  • Minors under the age of 14 may not be employed 
  • Minors aged 14 and 15: 
  • Must acquire a work permit from their school district for employment, no matter what time of year they are working 
  • May not work before 7:00 am or after 7:00 pm during the school year 
  • May not work before 7:00 am and after 9:00 pm when school is not in session 
  • May not work more than three hours on a school day 
  • May not work more than 18 hours per school week 
  • May not work more than eight hours per day when school is not in session 
  • May not work more than 40 hours per week when school is not in session 
  • Minors aged 16 and 17: 
  • Must acquire a work permit from their school district only when school is in session 
  • May not work before 7:00 am (or 6:00 am if not employed after 8:00 pm the previous night) or after 11:00 pm Sunday through Thursday during the school year


FAQs About Ohio Labor Law and Employment

Keeping up with ever-changing wage and labor laws in Ohio can be tough for any HR professional; feel free to contact the pros at Horizon with any questions you may have regarding these regulations! Here are just a few commonly asked questions that our team receives.

Are Independent Contractors Covered Under Ohio's Laws?

Unfortunately, independent contractors are not covered by most employment legislation in Ohio.  

Does At-Will Employment Exist in Ohio?

Yes, Ohio is an at-will employment state. That means that unless you are in a labor union or your termination violates a prior employment agreement, your employer may fire you for any lawful reason, regardless of how sound or unsound their reasoning is. Some reasons for termination may be considered unlawful, like retaliatory termination for employees who advocate for their rights as employees, or termination that is motivated by discriminatory beliefs about protected groups.  

What Protections are In Place for Employees if Layoffs Occur?

Employers must warn employees in the form of a written notice at least 60 days prior to a plant closing or mass layoff. However, smaller employers have no requirement to issue this warning, and smaller layoffs may not require a warning by law. Additionally, certain companies are required to adhere to terms set about layoffs in collective bargaining agreements between unions and their employers.  


Breaking Employment Law Means Fines, Penalties, and More

Breaking employment law can result in significant fines and penalties for employers, up to and including significant legal action! As a result, it’s crucial that employers know the laws that govern employment inside and out.  

Employees Have Protected Rights in Ohio

Employees in Ohio have a number of rights that protect them from mistreatment by employers. Not only is it important for employers to know these rights to avoid overstepping them, but it’s also important that employees are aware of their rights so that they can avoid injustices in the workplace!  

Horizon is a Trusted HR Compliance Partner for Businesses

Does your company need help keeping track of changing employment and wage laws? Looking for professionals who can help keep your business on the right path? Horizon is proud to be a trusted HR and payroll compliance partner for businesses of all kinds across a number of different industries! From HR processes to payroll solutions, benefits administration, onboarding, and more, we can ensure that your business is running smoothly from top to bottom. 

Contact Us Today for More Information

Interested in our top-rated business solutions? Contact our team of professionals today for more information and a free consultation. 

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